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Syracuse football bowl watch: APR loophole is pretty small

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Can Syracuse make a bowl with just 5 wins? Perhaps...

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another Syracuse Orange bowl watch that relies on computer projections. You’ve been warned.

Here’s the landscape: There are a record 41 bowls scheduled for 2021-22, meaning that 82 of the 130 in FBS will play in a bowl. Ideally, all 82 of those teams will have 6 wins, with 5 against other FBS schools and 1 against an FCS opponent. This season, with just 2 weeks to go in the regular season, just 60 teams guaranteed to finish with 6 wins. So where do the other 22 teams come from?

The Academic Progress Rate, calculated by the NCAA, determines the rest of the bowl field. The highest APR teams with 5 wins will be selected to fill out the rest of the matchups. Kuddos as always to Syracuse.com’s Chris Carlson, who does the yearly look at school APR rankings to determine where Syracuse falls in relation to other 5 win programs. This year, the Orange are 15th out of 25 schools with 5 wins.

From Syracuse’s perspective, this isn’t terrible news. Being higher in the rankings would be ideal, but what this means is that no matter what, the Orange won’t be selected above the 15 schools in front of them with 5 wins. Should those schools get a 6th win, there’s 1 less spot in the field, but the APR list does get shorter. But if you remember the math from earlier, that means even with all 15 schools getting a bowl invite via APR or 6 wins, there will still be 7 slots available for APR or 6 win teams.

The real concern for the Orange? 7 of the 10 schools below the Orange with 5 wins or some of the schools with 4 wins leapfrog the Orange to bowl eligibility, shutting them out. What are the chances of that? Let’s check out SP+ for expected end of season win totals for these schools plus Syracuse. (All percentages are for totals of 6 or more wins.)

SP+ Bowl Eligibility Projection

Team Name % Chance of 6 Wins or 5 Wins and Higher APR than 'Cuse
Team Name % Chance of 6 Wins or 5 Wins and Higher APR than 'Cuse
North Carolina 99%
Georgia State 93%
Washington State 91%
Texas 76%
Illinois 68%
Troy 64%
Virginia Tech 64%
Maryland 64%
Northwestern 57%
Southern California 50%
Charlotte 48%
California 48%
Syracuse 43%
San Jose State 40%
West Virginia 40%
Buffalo 25%
South Alabama 22%
Washington 22%
LSU 22%
Tulsa 18%
Old Dominion 17%
Texas Christian 17%
Nebraska 13%
North Texas 10%
Florida State 10%
Louisiana-Monroe 9%
Temple 6%
Rice 6%
Stanford 4%
Duke 3%
Georgia Tech 1%

For those that don’t want to count, there are 13 schools with a better chance to jump Syracuse in the bowl eligibility criteria than the Orange are to get 6 wins. With just 7 APR slots left available if the games play out as expected, this would leave the 5 win Orange outside of the bowl picture.

The computers giveth, the computers taketh away. As always, there’s a slim chance the Orange could be a 5 win bowl team, but getting to 6 wins appears like the most likely way for the Orange to punch their ticket.