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How Syracuse can make a bowl game as a 5-win team and how likely that is to happen

first_imgLet’s not mince words: The easiest way for Syracuse football to make a bowl game is by being a six-win team. But if that doesn’t happen, some five-win teams could make a bowl game, too.SU has a good probability of winning at least one of its final four games. Although it faces No. 3 Clemson and No. 19 Florida State, the Orange also plays North Carolina State, a team that lost to Boston College this past week, and Pittsburgh, which narrowly lost at home to Virginia Tech. To get to five wins, SU would likely have to split the latter two. Getting to six games would probably also mean having to sweep those two games.Five-win teams have been a bowl fixture since 2012, when the NCAA introduced a rule that if bowl games couldn’t be filled, a team that finished in the top five in the academic progress rate, or APR, could be invited to a bowl game. Each team is given an APR based on its academic performance. Until last year, that method had sufficed.Only 77 teams finished the 2015 season at 6-6 and eligible for a bowl game. The five in the APR all reached bowl eligibility. The NCAA then clarified its rule and said the top five five to seven teams in terms of APR would be eligible to fill slots. Syracuse (4-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) could take advantage of the rule this year, especially with a tough slate ahead. Currently, CBS Sports and SB Nation do not have Syracuse in, and ESPN hasn’t released an update to its bowl projections since SU’s bye week. SU plays Clemson (8-0, 5-0) in Death Valley on Saturday, a game Dino Babers said the Orange would need a rock and a sling shot to win.“Don’t bet the house on it, brother,” Babers reiterated about beating Clemson.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text There are 40 bowl games this season, meaning there are 80 slots for 128 teams in Division I FBS football. Prior to the 2016-17 season, the NCAA further established a rule that all 6-6 teams must be selected for bowl games before 5-7 teams. Last season, the 5-7 teams selected included Minnesota, Nebraska and San Jose State. Each team won its respective bowl game.This season, however, seems to have set a pace in which the NCAA will be able to fill out its bowl slate. So far, 37 teams have become bowl eligible and reached the requisite six wins. Another 23 teams have reached five wins. Nearly all of them will have four chances to get to six wins, and, of those teams, ESPN’s Football Power Index projects each of the 23 to get more than six wins. Ten, however, are projected to finish with fewer than seven wins.Those 10 would be the most likely to fall short of the six-win mark. Of those teams, only four are projected to finish with fewer than 6.5 wins: Maryland, Arizona State, Akron and Eastern Michigan. It would help Syracuse if none of those teams reached the six-win mark. Currently, SB Nation projects each of those teams to reach a bowl game while CBS Sports has all but EMU in a bowl game.SB Nation and CBS Sports currently have 20 teams and 21 teams in bowl games, respectively, that haven’t yet reached the five-win mark. The former projected a 5-7 Boston College would make a bowl game and be the only 5-7 team to be invited to a bowl game.There are currently 18 teams ahead of Syracuse in APR who have yet to qualify for a bowl. Three are 2-6 (Illinois, Michigan State, Missouri) and unlikely to get to five or six wins. Three are 3-5 (Duke, Utah State and Notre Dame). According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, Utah State and Notre Dame are on the fringe of a five-win season. Six of those teams are 4-4 (Northwestern, Vanderbilt, North Texas, Central Florida, Boston College and Indiana). All of them are projected to get five wins. Assuming all the five-win teams ahead of Syracuse become bowl eligible (there’s six: Georgia Tech, Air Force, Stanford, Navy, Maryland and Kansas State), there’d still be six teams ahead of SU in the APR rankings.If the 2016 season replicates 2015, three spots would be available for 5-7 teams (although that looks increasingly doubtful). The Orange would need at least seven of the nine 3-5 and 4-4 teams to not get to five wins.All the math sets up a year similar to former head coach Scott Shafer’s first season. In 2013, Syracuse beat Wake Forest to get back to .500 and then went on to win two of its last four against Maryland and Boston College. To beat B.C. and get to 6-6, SU needed a last-second drive.The next four games will spell out whether Syracuse can reach bowl eligibility again. While SU may only need one more win, it likely needs two. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on November 2, 2016 at 1:25 am Contact Chris: [email protected] | @ChrisLibonatilast_img

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