Central Michigan football players will become cheerleaders this weekend, with their bowl hopes hinging on three teams one win away from bowl eligibility.
CMU finished 6-6 and bowl eligible, but that does not guarantee them an invitation.
According to CMU Athletics Director Dave Heeke, there are currently 70 bowl-eligible teams perfectly matching the 35 bowl games. But three teams have a chance to become bowl eligible this weekend.
“We’ll see what happens,” CMU head coach Dan Enos said. “I know it’s not a guarantee, being 6-6, that we’re going to get an opportunity, but we would love to have an opportunity.”
Teams that CMU needs to lose Saturday
Heeke said if Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Georgia Tech all lose, CMU will be in a bowl game again, since there would be a slot for every bowl-eligible team.
“We need all three of them to lose,” Heeke said. “If they won, then it would be amongst other teams for an at-large bid. That would be a challenge for us to get in.”
Georgia Tech will play No. 13 Florida State in the ACC Championship Game on ESPN at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets will either earn a BCS bid into the Orange Bowl with a win or be 6-7 and bowl ineligible.
The CMU players will root for Cincinnati (8-3) against Connecticut at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday on ABC. At 7 p.m. on ESPN on Saturday, the Chippewas will need South Florida to upset Pittsburgh, who just defeated a ranked Rutgers.
If one of those teams wins, CMU will put its resume and bowl appeal to the test with other teams such as Rice and Southern Methodist University – both 6-6 from a weak Conference USA.
The MAC appears to be stronger than C-USA, with seven bowl-eligible teams, compared to five from C-USA.
“We’re in one of the better conferences with seven bowl-eligible teams,” Heeke said. “We have two highly ranked teams, and I believe we deserve to get a bowl invitation.”
CBSsports.com projects the Chippewas playing in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 against San Jose State. CMU would fill in for the eighth-best ACC team, which won’t have eight bowl-eligible teams. Last week, CBS Sports had CMU in the New Orleans bowl, which is played before Christmas.
Jerry Palm, the CBS sports writer who projected the bowl schedule, did not include Georgia Tech, UConn and Pittsburgh. In his blog, he said adding those teams would likely kick out a MAC team and/or Sun Belt team. The MAC bowl-eligible school with the worst record is CMU.
Palm had both Rice and SMU going to bowl games as well in his projection.
The five Sun Belt eligible teams all have at least one more victory than CMU, as do four teams in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
It is very fortunate for the Chippewas that Ohio State, Penn State, North Carolina and Miami are all either self-imposing or on NCAA postseason ban – all of those teams have a better record in tougher conferences than CMU.