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While unlikely, here’s how MSU Football can still reach a bowl game this year

Believe it or not, Michigan State football could still find its way into a bowl game this year.

At 3-7, Michigan State can not finish the season with a winning record and reach the minimum six wins necessary to earn a bowl bid. However, Brett McMurphy of Action Network is projecting there could be at least three spots for teams at 5-7 to receive a bowl bid due to there not being enough six-win teams this year.

Click on the tweet below to get a full breakdown from McMurphy on how this all works:

When it comes to which 5-7 teams receive a bowl bid, that’s when the Academic Progress Report (APR) rankings come into place. According to College Football News, Michigan State ranks No. 28 nationally which is one of the higher spots when it comes to teams that could finish 5-7 and are in play for one of the open bowl bids.

So what you’re telling me is there’s a chance? Yes, there is! The odds aren’t particularly high (not at all actually) but still a chance nonetheless. Here’s what needs to happen for Michigan State to receive a bowl bid this year:

  1. Win their remaining two games against Indiana and Penn State. A loss in either of those games ends any postseason chances for the Spartans.

  2. Have enough things bounce the Spartans’ way where there are enough slots for 5-7 teams to receive a bowl bid and Michigan State is listed as one of the top 5-7 teams in the APR rankings to receive one of those bids.

Like I said, it’s not very likely at all but, hey, after this season I think we would all take any chance of reaching the postseason at this point, right?

So with all of this being said, I’ve outlined below a number of games this week that could impact the Spartans’ chances of going bowling. These are games that are specific to teams that may reach bowl eligibility or could reach at least five wins and end up ahead of the Spartans in the APR bowl bid pecking order.

If Michigan State beats Indiana this week, then I’ll reassess and provide an update on where things stand heading into the season finale against Penn State. For now, check out the Michigan State rooting guide for week 12 games below:

Michigan State at Indiana (-3.5)

Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

When: 12 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: Big Ten Network

Preferred MSU Outcome: Michigan State win

This one is straightforward as Michigan State must win both of their remaining games to remain alive for a bowl bid. So if the Spartans lose to Indiana, the rest of the games after this in our list are irrelevant.

USF at UTSA (-16)

Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

When: 9 p.m. ET on Friday

TV: ESPN2

Preferred MSU Outcome: UTSA win

USF is 5-5 on the season and needs one more win to reach bowl eligibility. The Bulls are ranked No. 69 in APR so Michigan State would get bowl bid priority over USF if both teams finish 5-7.

Southern Miss at Mississippi State (-14.5)

Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

When: 12 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: SEC Network+

Preferred MSU Outcome: Southern Miss win

Mississippi State is 4-6 on the season and ranks higher than Michigan State in APR at No. 19. So if the Bulldogs win one more game they’ll end up higher than the Spartans in the 5-7 bowl bid pecking order.

Oklahoma (-24) at BYU

Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

When: 12 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: ESPN

Preferred MSU Outcome: Oklahoma win

BYU is 5-5 on the season and needs one more win to reach bowl eligibility. The Cougars are ranked No. 105 in APR so Michigan State would get bowl bid priority over BYU if both teams finish 5-7.

Rice (-2.5) at Charlotte

Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

When: 2 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: ESPN+

Preferred MSU Outcome: Charlotte win

Rice is 4-6 on the season and ranks higher than Michigan State in APR at No. 15. So if the Owls win one more game they’ll end up higher than the Spartans in the 5-7 bowl bid pecking order.

Cincinnati at West Virginia (-6.5)

Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer
Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer

When: 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: ESPN+

Preferred MSU Outcome: West Virginia win

Cincinnati is 3-7 on the season and ranks higher than Michigan State in APR at No. 6. So if the Bearcats win both of their remaining games they’ll end up higher than the Spartans in the 5-7 bowl bid pecking order.

Texas State (-3.5) at Arkansas State

Credit: The Oklahoman
Credit: The Oklahoman

When: 3 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: ESPN+

Preferred MSU Outcome: Texas State win

Arkansas State is 5-5 on the season and needs one more win to reach bowl eligibility. The Red Wolves are ranked No. 69 in APR so Michigan State would get bowl bid priority over Arkansas State if both teams finish 5-7.

Wake Forest at Notre Dame (-24.5)

Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

When: 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: NBC

Preferred MSU Outcome: Notre Dame win

Wake Forest is 4-6 on the season and ranks higher than Michigan State in APR at No. 8. So if the Demon Deacons win one more game they’ll end up higher than the Spartans in the 5-7 bowl bid pecking order.

Louisana at Troy (-16.5)

Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

When: 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: NFL Network

Preferred MSU Outcome: Troy win

Louisana is 5-5 on the season and needs one more win to reach bowl eligibility. The Ragin’ Cajuns are ranked No. 109 in APR so Michigan State would get bowl bid priority over Arkansas State if both teams finish 5-7.

NC State at Virginia Tech (-2.5)

Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

When: 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: ACC Network

Preferred MSU Outcome: NC State win

Virginia Tech is 5-5 on the season and needs one more win to reach bowl eligibility. The Hokies are ranked No. 69 in APR so Michigan State would get bowl bid priority over Virginia Tech if both teams finish 5-7.

Illinois at Iowa (-3)

Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

When: 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: Fox Sports 1

Preferred MSU Outcome: Iowa win

Illinois is 5-5 on the season and needs one more win to reach bowl eligibility. The Fighting Illini are ranked No. 85 in APR so Michigan State would get bowl bid priority over Illinois if both teams finish 5-7.

UCF at Texas Tech (-2.5)

Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

When: 5 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: Fox Sports 2

Preferred MSU Outcome: UCF win

Both UCF and Texas Tech are 5-5 on the season, but UCF is higher in the APR rankings than Michigan State while Texas Tech is lower. So, the best-case scenario for Michigan State would be a UCF victory over Texas Tech, with the Red Raiders also losing against Texas next week.

Boise State (-3.5) at Utah State

Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

When: 7 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: CBS Sports Network

Preferred MSU Outcome: Boise State win

Both Boise State and Utah State are 5-5 on the season, but Boise State is higher in the APR rankings than Michigan State, while Utah State is lower. So, the best-case scenario for Michigan State would be a Boise State victory over Utah State, with the Aggies also losing against New Mexico next week.

Nebraska at Wisconsin (-5.5)

Credit: Milwaukee Sentinel Journal
Credit: Milwaukee Sentinel Journal

When: 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: NBC

Preferred MSU Outcome: Wisconsin win

Both Wisconsin and Nebraska are 5-5 on the season, but Wisconsin is higher in the APR rankings than Michigan State, while Nebraska is lower. So, the best-case scenario for Michigan State would be a Wisconsin victory over Nebraska, with the Cornhuskers also losing against Iowa next week.

Florida at Missouri (-11)

Credit: Gator Sports
Credit: Gator Sports

When: 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: ESPN

Preferred MSU Outcome: Missouri win

Florida is 5-5 on the season and needs one more win to reach bowl eligibility. The Gators are ranked No. 43 in APR so Michigan State would get bowl bid priority over Florida if both teams finish 5-7.

Kentucky at South Carolina (-0.5)

Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

When: 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: SEC Network

Preferred MSU Outcome: Kentucky win

South Carolina is 4-6 on the season and ranks higher than Michigan State in APR at No. 23. So if the Gamecocks win one more game they’ll end up higher than the Spartans in the 5-7 bowl bid pecking order.

Syracuse at Georgia Tech (-6.5)

Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

When: 8 p.m. ET on Saturday

TV: ACC Network

Preferred MSU Outcome: Syracuse win

Both Syracuse and Georgia Tech are 5-5 on the year and both are below Michigan State in APR rankings. The winner of this game will be bowl eligible and the loser will have to win next week to reach the postseason. Georgia Tech has to play Georgia (which is most likely a loss) and Syracuse faces Wake Forest (which is a toss-up). Knowing that Michigan State needs Wake Forest to lose out as noted earlier, the best-case scenario for the Spartans is Syracuse winning their remaining two games with Georgia Tech losing their final two games. So for this particular matchup, Michigan State wants to see Syracuse earn the victory.

Other Games To Follow

Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Below are some other games of note that could impact the Spartans’ chances of receiving a bowl bid at 5-7:

The results from this week’s games will determine if how impactful the games listed above will be for Michigan State. Should the Spartans beat Indiana on Saturday, then the results from the games above will certainly come into consideration in next week’s updated review.

Final Thoughts Entering Week 12

Credit: Lansing State Journal
Credit: Lansing State Journal

Do I honestly think Michigan State will find themselves in a bowl game this year? No way. The odds of the Spartans beating both Indiana and Penn State to end the season are already extremely low. Then, mix in all of the other results that need to occur outside of their control and it clearly is very unlikely.

But… there’s at least a sliver of hope still out there. It starts with winning in Bloomington, Ind. on Saturday and from there we will reassess next week. It would be fun to at least have something to play for in the season finale against Penn State at Ford Field in Detroit. That’s what I’m personally hoping for out of all of this after a brutal season for the Spartans.

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Story originally appeared on Spartans Wire