College football bowl projections: The chances of a 5-7 team in a bowl are high

There will need to be some upsets in the final week of the college football season if there aren’t going to be any 5-7 teams in bowl games.

After Miami (Ohio) came back to beat Ball State, 18-17, and secure a spot in the Bahamas Bowl, there are 74 teams eligible for bowl games. And with Rice and Appalachian State both needing to get a win to be eligible for a bowl game, the number of bowl-eligible teams will be no lower than 75. The Mountaineers are favored by 4.5 points in that matchup and need a seventh win for bowl eligibility because they have two wins over FCS teams so far this season.

But here’s the catch. There are 41 bowl games this year outside of the national title game. That means seven teams with five wins must win on the final weekend of the season for no 5-7 teams to head to a bowl game. And a lot of those five-win teams are underdogs.

Just four of the remaining teams needing a win in Week 13 are favored. Here’s a look at the lines, courtesy of BetMGM.


  • Southern Miss (-3) at Louisiana-Monroe

  • Buffalo* (-4) vs. Kent State

  • Louisiana (-5.5) at Texas State

  • UAB (-17.5) at Louisiana Tech

*Buffalo is 5-5 after its game against Akron was postponed.

One-score underdogs

  • Missouri (+3) vs. Arkansas

  • Miami (+6.5) vs. Pitt

  • Florida Atlantic (+7) vs. Western Kentucky

Significant underdogs

  • Rice (+14) at North Texas

  • Vanderbilt (+14.5) vs. Tennessee

  • UTEP (+17) at UTSA

  • Michigan State (+18) at Penn State

Hoping for a miracle

  • Auburn (+21.5) at Alabama

  • Georgia Tech (+35.5) at Georgia

Which of those underdogs are you most confident in? All three of the one-score underdogs are at home, so they could conceivably win and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise. But would you count on that happening? A $50 parlay on all the favorites and one-score underdogs to win would pay over $2,000. The odds aren’t great of all seven of those teams winning outright.

That’s why it’s likely there will be at least one 5-7 team in a bowl game this year. And this is where academics come into play. Sub-.500 teams are selected for bowl games based on their Academic Progress Rate. That means Rice (994) is first in line if it finishes 5-7 because it has the highest APR of any potential 5-7 team.

We’re going to avoid selecting multiple teams to bowl games based on their APR in our next-to-last set of bowl projections and try to be optimistic. We’ll dive into the APR rates in a week if we have to. Hopefully we don’t. But we likely will.

COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 19: Missouri Tigers quarterback Brady Cook (12) runs for a first down while being chased by New Mexico State Aggies linebacker Trevor Brohard (80) during a non conference game between the New Mexico State Aggies and the Missouri Tigers held on Saturday NOV 19, 2022 at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium in Columbia MO. (Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Missouri is a 3-point underdog to Arkansas at home on Friday. Can the Tigers win to get to six wins and bowl eligibility? (Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

New Year's Six bowl games

Orange Bowl (Dec. 30)

Clemson vs. Alabama

Sugar Bowl (Dec. 31)

Kansas State vs. LSU

Peach Bowl (Dec. 31) [CFP semifinal]

Georgia vs. USC

Fiesta Bowl (Dec. 31) [CFP semifinal]

Ohio State vs. TCU

Cotton Bowl (Jan. 2)

Tennessee vs. UCF

Rose Bowl (Jan. 2)

Michigan vs. Oregon

Other bowl games

Bahamas Bowl (Dec. 16)

Rice vs. Miami (Ohio)

Cure Bowl (Dec. 16)

Liberty vs. South Alabama

Fenway Bowl (Dec. 17)

Syracuse vs. Cincinnati

New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 17)

Air Force vs. North Texas

LA Bowl (Dec. 17)

Boise State vs. Washington State

LendingTree Bowl (Dec. 17)

Toledo vs. Appalachian State

Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 17)

Utah vs. Mississippi State

Frisco Bowl (Dec. 17)

Middle Tennessee State vs. SMU

Myrtle Beach Bowl (Dec. 19)

UTSA vs. Coastal Carolina

Potato Bowl (Dec. 20)

San Diego State vs. Bowling Green

Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 20)

Florida Atlantic vs. East Carolina

New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 21)

Western Kentucky vs. Southern Miss

Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 22)

Houston vs. Miami

Gasparilla Bowl (Dec. 23)

Maryland vs. Georgia Southern

Independence Bowl (Dec. 23)

BYU vs. UConn

Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 24)

San Jose State vs. UAB

Quick Lane Bowl (Dec. 26)

Utah State vs. Buffalo

First Responder Bowl (Dec. 27)

Memphis vs. Kansas

Birmingham Bowl (Dec. 27)

Fresno State vs. Louisiana

Camellia Bowl (Dec. 27)

Ohio vs. Troy

Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Dec. 27)

Purdue vs. Oklahoma State

Military Bowl (Dec. 28)

Duke vs. Tulane

Liberty Bowl (Dec. 28)

Oklahoma vs. South Carolina

Holiday Bowl (Dec. 28)

Wake Forest vs. Washington

Texas Bowl (Dec. 28)

Texas Tech vs. Arkansas

Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 29)

NC State vs. Minnesota

Cheez-It Bowl (Dec. 29)

North Carolina vs. Baylor

Alamo Bowl (Dec. 29)

Texas vs. UCLA

Duke’s Mayo Bowl (Dec. 30)

Louisville vs. Wisconsin

Sun Bowl (Dec. 30)

Oregon State vs. Pitt

Gator Bowl (Dec. 30)

Florida State vs. Kentucky

Arizona Bowl (Dec. 30)

Wyoming vs. Eastern Michigan

Music City Bowl (Dec. 31)

Iowa vs. Florida

ReliaQuest Bowl (Jan. 2)

Notre Dame vs. Illinois

Citrus Bowl (Jan. 2)

Penn State vs. Ole Miss