MUNCIE, Ind. — Ball State football became bowl-eligible with a 20-3 victory over Buffalo last Tuesday.
But, after a wild weekend in college football, there are now 83 bowl-eligible teams — teams with a 6-6 record or better — and only 82 bowl berths. That means one bowl-eligible team will not be invited to a bowl this season.
Some national media outlets are projecting that Ball State (6-6) will get to go bowling: Sports Illustrated projected the Cardinals to play in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Dec. 28 at 10:15 p.m.) against Texas Tech; College Football News has Ball State taking on Appalachian State in the Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 18 at 11 a.m.); ESPN has Ball State playing Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) or Georgia State in the Camellia Bowl (Dec. 25 at 2:30 p.m.); USA Today has Ball State playing Old Dominion in the Cure Bowl (Dec. 17 at 6 p.m.); and Bowl Season has Ball State playing Wyoming in the Frisco Bowl (Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m.).
Other national media outlets, including the Athletic, Athlon, CBS Sports and Pro Football Network, are projecting the Cardinals to be the one team that does not receive a bowl bid.
Historically, Mid-American Conference teams are often the first among Group of Five teams to get snubbed. Here's a look at the bowl-eligible teams that have not received a bowl bid since 2010:
2019: Toledo (6-6 MAC)
2018: Louisiana-Monroe (6-6 Sun Belt), Miami (6-6 MAC), Southern Miss (6-5 C-USA), Wyoming (6-6 MWC)
2017: Buffalo (6-6 MAC), UTSA (6-6 C-USA) and Western Michigan (6-6 MAC)
2014: Middle Tennessee (6-6 C-USA), Ohio (6-6 MAC), Temple (6-6 AAC), Texas State (7-5 Sun Belt), UAB (6-6 C-USA)
2013: Central Michigan (6-6 MAC), Florida Atlantic (6-6 C-USA), Louisiana-Monroe (6-6 Sun Belt), San Jose State (6-6 MWC), South Alabama (6-6 Sun Belt), Texas State (6-6 Sun Belt), Toledo (7-5 MAC), Troy (6-6 Sun Belt) and Western Kentucky (8-4 Sun Belt)
2012: Louisiana Tech (9-3 WAC) and Middle Tennessee (8-4 Sun Belt)
2011: Ball State (6-6 MAC) and Western Kentucky (7-5 Sun Belt)
2010: Temple (8-4 MAC) and Western Michigan (6-6 MAC)
Of the 28 bowl-eligible teams that did not receive a bowl bid since 2010, 10 are from the MAC. In all but one season where there were more bowl-eligible teams than there were bowl berths, at least one MAC team didn't receive a bowl invitation.
Looking across the final MAC standings, that trend doesn't look good for a bubble team like Ball State.
There are eight teams in the MAC that are bowl eligible: Ball State (6-6), Central Michigan (8-4), Eastern Michigan (7-5), East Champion Kent State (7-5), Miami (6-6), West Champion Northern Illinois (8-4), Toledo (7-5) and Western Michigan (7-5). Only two — Ball State and Miami — have .500 records.
Now, an interesting caveat here, as first brought up on Reddit's college football Twitter account, is that Miami and West Virginia both have wins over Division II school Long Island University, which plays in a league that caps football scholarships at 45.
2 6-6 teams that might be on the fringe eligibility-wise: West Virginia and Miami (OH) both beat LIU, who recently promoted from D2 and plays in the FCS NEC. The NEC caps football scholarships at 45, below the 56.7 required to be counted towards bowl eligibility.
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 28, 2021
If it is found that Long Island doesn't meet the requirement of a "deserving opponent", as laid out in NCAA bylaw 220.127.116.11.1, which states that "the opponent has averaged 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of grants-in-aids per year in football during a rolling two-year period,then Ball State would theoretically jump over West Virginia and Miami in terms of bowl eligibility.
The MAC has affiliations to six bowls: Bahamas Bowl (vs. Conference USA), Camellia Bowl (vs. American or Sun Belt), Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (vs. Mountain West), LendingTree Bowl (vs. Sun Belt), Arizona Bowl (vs. Mountain West) and Quick Lane Bowl (vs. Big Ten).
MAC teams also can land in one of the following five bowls, based on the decisions from the Group of Five conferences: Cure Bowl (vs. Group of Five or Army), Myrtle Beach Bowl (vs. American/Sun Belt), Next Mexico Bowl (vs. Group of Five), Boca Raton Bowl (vs. Group of Five or Army) and Frisco Bowl (vs. Group of Five).
The Bahamas Bowl saw Toledo (7-5) and Middle Tennessee (6-6) accept invites Sunday, so that's already off the table.
The remainder of the bowl games will be known by Dec. 5, 2021, following the conference championship games this weekend. Ball State could also receive a bowl bid before then, and bowl-eligible teams can also opt-out of the postseason.
This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: Ball State football: 2021 Bowl game possibilities, including no bid