The goal is clear for the Central Michigan football team: beat Miami (Ohio) and Massachusetts to finish off the season 6-6 and become bowl eligible.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Andrew Flory said the coaches have been harping on the team to forget about the earlier losses and win out to try to get to a bowl game.
But would .500 get the Chippewas into a bowl game? In seasons past it would only work for teams in bigger conferences with a bigger fan base – but that isn’t the case anymore. With 35 bowl games, and several teams this year not bowl eligible, CMU has a chance.
In CMU’s seven previous postseason years, it had to win at least eight games. But this year’s team would have to do it with six.
Last year, 17 teams finished the regular season 6-6. Out of that group, 14 played in bowl games. Miami (Fla.) was ineligible and the Mid-American Conference’s Eastern Michigan and Ball State didn’t get invited.
Instead of one team not being selected because of a bowl ban though, three teams (Ohio State, Penn State and North Carolina) will have more than six wins but will be unable to play in a bowl game.
With 35 bowls, 70 teams go to a bowl game. So far 54 teams are bowl eligible and 34 teams still have a chance to appear in bowl games. That leaves 17 bowl spots for 34 teams – CMU being one of them.
Out of the 35 teams still looking for bowl eligibility, 14 teams are one win away.
Texas State and South Florida are two of the 34 teams with a chance still, but they would have to win all three remaining games – including games against bowl eligible teams. That leaves 19 teams in the spot CMU is in, needing to win its last two games to get to .500.
The Chippewas need to beat Miami (Ohio) Saturday to keep their chances alive, but it would also eliminate the RedHawks from bowl contention.
Head coach Dan Enos said the team isn’t worried about the others as much as it is trying to reach six wins itself.
“This week is going to be big for us, like a playoff game,” Enos said. “We’ve got to take care of our end of it, and that’s what we’re focused on.”
Teams one loss away from snapping bowl chances include:
Central Michigan, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Virginia, Purdue, Iowa, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Rice, Houston, Southern Methodist, Marshall, Miami (Ohio), Arkansas, North Texas, Tennessee, Utah, Texas State, Baylor and South Florida.