The Mississippi State Bulldogs just thrashed the Ole Miss Rebels in the 2016 Egg Bowl to end the season at 5-7, or did they? It is already a given that 80 teams will not qualify for bowl games, which means teams with losing records can get into bowl games thanks to their APR.
8:35 AM UPDATE: Mississippi State got some help in its quest for bowl eligibility last night. UCLA lost to California, which leaves the Bruins, a team ahead of Mississippi State in the APR, with only four wins. With that loss the Bulldogs (and Texas) move up the list of APR eligible teams. In short, this means Mississippi State will receive a bowl offer.
We had a few questions about Army last night. The Black Knights have six wins, but two came at the FCS level, and the team did not ask for a waiver to allow two FCS victories to count for bowl eligibility. In order for the Black Knights to qualify in the traditional manner, they must defeat Navy next week. However, Army was already guaranteed a bowl slot because of their APR, so they were counted in our number of 73 bowl eligible teams.
In other games, Hawaii picked up a victory to move to 6-7. This puts the Rainbow Warriors in a bowl games since they have six wins. UTSA also picked up a victory, moving the Roadrunners into a bowl slot. That moves our list of teams who are assured of a bowl berth because of having at least six wins to 76.
Two more teams can reach bowl eligibility next week. Those teams are South Alabama and Louisiana Lafayette. Should they both win, that adds two more teams to the mix, making it 78 teams that are eligible for a bowl game.
That leaves, at a minimum, two slots for 5-7 teams to go to a bowl game based on their APR. North Texas would be the first team in because it holds a 984 APR, the highest of the 5-7 teams. Mississippi State and Texas are tied at 971. However, the tiebreaker is listed as best most recent single year APR. The Bulldogs beat Texas 970-968. That means the Bulldogs will be line to receive a bowl berth no matter the outcome of next week's games.
ORIGINAL STORY--As it sits now, Mississippi State might have a chance of squeezing their way into postseason play--if Wikipedia is to be trusted (guys, I know...).
***Below could be modified if further research dictates***
Of all of the non-eligible bowl teams, Mississippi State and Texas sit tied at 3rd in APR rankings. One would think that if only three teams get in, a bowl would likely take Texas and its larger fanbase over Mississippi State, but that may not be the case. The two teams ahead of Mississippi State are North Texas and UCLA. So what do you need to root for tonight if you are a Mississippi State fan?
In all 73 teams are already eligible for a bowl bid thanks to having six wins. Vanderbilt, South Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette, UTSA can still reach six wins. Vanderbilt, thanks to its 990 APR is in a bowl game with a 5-7 record as well, making it a de facto 74th team. If you are a Mississippi State fan, you would like to see South Alabama lose next week to New Mexico State (3-8) , Louisiana-Lafayette lose to Louisiana-Monroe (4-7) next week, and UTSA lose to Charlotte (4-7) tonight (game is tied 7-7 in the first quarter as of the time of this publishing). As you can see, Bulldog fans would be happy to see some upsets as wins by 5-7 teams would push the number of bowl eligible teams up to 77.
In other action tonight are pulling for the Bruins to lose tonight as this would take them out of bowl consideration. A loss by UCLA to California drops them to 4-8 and behind all 5-7 teams looking or a bowl berth. Also, brew a pot of coffee, because the Hawaii matchup against UMass is a huge one in Honolulu. The Rainbow Warriors sit at 5-7, but they are playing a 13th game this year. A 6-7 team gets the nod over a 5-7 team without APR coming into play. Should all of the previously listed teams win, that pushes the number of bowl eligible teams to 79.
Should UCLA and Hawaii lose tonight, Mississippi State should be assured of a bowl berth. This removes Hawaii from contention thanks to five wins and being behind Mississippi State in APR, and it removes UCLA from being ahead of the Bulldogs in APR because the Bruins would only have four wins. For those wondering, California, who is 4-7 and playing UCLA, is behind Mississippi State in APR.
In the end, for the Bulldogs to go bowling only 76 teams need to lock up bowl eligibility with six wins. A 77th team can do the same as long as Hawaii or UCLA lose. If both Hawaii and UCLA win tonight, the Bulldogs are going to need some help next week.
Behind Mississippi State in APR are Northern Illinois, Louisiana-Monroe and California.
That is what has to shake out (I think) for the Bulldogs to make a bowl game.