- Bowl eligible
The term bowl eligible refers to any NCAA football team that is able to play in one of the 34 bowl games that are a part of the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS; formerly Division I-A) season. In order to be bowl eligible, a team must have at least six wins, including conference and out-of-conference games, and the team must not be on probation. The NCAA allows one victory per season over a Division I FCS (formerly I-AA) team to count toward an FBS team's bowl eligibility, so long as the FCS team has supplied financial aid for football averaging out to at least 56.7 full scholarships (90% of the limit of 63 allowed to FCS schools) over the preceding two years. This prevents teams from scheduling multiple games against FCS teams in an effort to pad their win total. The term 'bowl eligible' is usually only used when referring to those teams that are eligible to play in minor bowl games, and not to those team who are competing to play in one of the five BCS bowl games.
Teams that are bowl eligible will usually either play in one of the bowl games that its conference is affiliated with based on conference tie-ins or the team will be chosen from the pool of remaining bowl eligible teams to fill one of the at-large positions.
April 26, 2006, the NCAA announced that they were relaxing the rules for eligibility starting with the 2006 season, particularly in light of the new 12 game college football season. Now, teams with .500 records can qualify for bowl games if their conference has a contract with a bowl game. Also, teams with .500 records (i.e. 6-6) could earn bowl bids if all other FBS teams with winning records have been taken and postseason spots still remain vacant. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2424711 ESPN - NCAA approves 31 bowl games for 2006 - College Football ] at sports.espn.go.com]
Occasionally there will be more bowl eligible teams than there are spots in the NCAA football bowl games in the season. In these cases, some bowl eligible teams will not be invited to play in any NCAA football bowl game. In 2005, eight bowl eligible teams did not receive bowl bids, namely WAC team Louisiana Tech (7-4), MAC teams Miami (OH) (7-4), Western Michigan (7-4), Northern Illinois (7-5), Bowling Green (6-5), Central Michigan (6-5), Sun Belt member Louisiana-Lafayette (6-5) and Mountain West team New Mexico (6-5).
In 2006, nine bowl eligible teams that all finished with 6-6 records did not receive bowl bids. They were Kansas from the Big 12, the Big East's Pittsburgh, Arizona and Washington State from the Pac-10, the MAC's Kent State,
Conference USA's Southern Methodist, MWC team Wyoming, and Sun Belt teams Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette.
In 2007, the most noted team that did not receive a bowl bid (and with a winning record) as Troy had an 8-4 record, but lost to Florida Atlantic on December 1 as the Owls went to the New Orleans Bowl as the Sun Belt champions, despite being 7-5 overall. The 6-6 teams that stayed home were Louisville from the Big East, Iowa and Northwestern of the Big Ten, Ohio from the MAC, the South Carolina Gamecocks of the SEC and another Sun Belt member, the Louisiana-Monroe WarHawks.
Two NCAA rules combine to make it unlikely, though possible, that a team with seven wins will be left out of a bowl game:
* Bowl games that have a contract with a conference must select a team with at least seven wins if one is available.
* Any bowl berths not already filled by contract must be filled by a team with seven wins before any spare 6-6 team can be accommodated.
There is a special case where a team can finish with a losing record and still appear in a bowl game. If a team wins their conference, they are given a waiver of the bowl eligibility requirements if they end up with an overall losing record.
2008 bowl eligible teams
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