With far too many bowl slots to fill this postseason, there's been a lot of speculation that at least a few 5-7 teams could see themselves selected despite not meeting the requisite six-win mark. Yesterday, on Syracuse.com, it was even suggested that our own Syracuse Orange could be the recipients of such good fortune with quality academics, should they reach 5-7.
- It's currently very unlikely the Orange get to five wins.
- There are FAR too many teams ahead of SU in the pecking order, should it come to this.
As explained in Nate Mink's piece, APR scores (HA!) would be the sorting metric for any 5-7 team looking to extend its respective season. Of current teams below the six-win mark, however, Syracuse falls 25th overall in APR. As much as we joke about the glut of unnecessary bowl games currently out there, there won't be 25 slots available once we're done exhausting the six-wins-or-better teams. It's unlikely there's more than seven of those, to be honest. Also notable, there won't be 25 teams at 5-7, however.
Based on my own in-season projections, there should be six slots available to 5-7 teams, with seven teams in line before we even get to the Orange (if they make it to five wins). Virginia Tech, Missouri, Kansas State, Minnesota, Illinois and Tulane are all ahead of SU and would make the postseason based on how I see the cards falling. USF, which beat Syracuse earlier in the year, would also be picked ahead based on APR.
But let's say SU got to five wins and enough slots managed to be up for grabs. Where are the likely landing spots?
Foster Farms Bowl: With a spot to fill after the Big Ten falls short of bowl-eligible teams, this is a spot where any number of teams above (or SU) could potentially land. Along with the Big Ten, the MAC and ACC also have secondary deals with this Santa Clara, Calif.-based game. Whoever's selected, in any case, would be up against perpetually-trying-to-get-right-back-in-this California, if projections shake out as I believe.
Quick Lane Bowl: This game's supposed to be a Big Ten-ACC matchup anyway. And as recently as the first week of October, college football prognosticators actually had Syracuse headed here anyway. If the Orange were to somehow luck into this, it would probably require Virginia Tech to NOT finish 5-7, as they'd be the more attractive selection, probably. With the Big Ten falling short on this one too, the game could end up being against a MAC squad like Kent State. "Catch the excitement!"
Birmingham Bowl: As some guy predicted back in August, your Orange could be headed to the Birmingham Bowl to face Houston. Because Houston is an unbeaten team at the moment, this would end poorly for SU, or any other 5-7 team involved.
Liberty Bowl: Another bowl the ACC has ties with anyway. A lesser SEC team like Kentucky could be the opponent here in a game that probably deserves a better matchup than whatever it ends up with. If, somehow, it was UK and SU, prep yourself for every "hey, this isn't basketball!" joke imaginable.
Cactus Bowl: Pretty low on everyone's priority board, this one could be the most likely landing spot for Syracuse should this scenario somehow come to pass. Hope you enjoy heading out to the desert to get flattened by a VERY feisty group of Pirate Leach Cougars. I'll probably be there, drinking and crying.
Obviously, one way around the Russian Roulette above: FINISH 6-6! The road to anything but this fate begins on Saturday against Louisville, win and at least five wins becomes a whole lot more manageable. Lose, and well... something similar to this.