16 staffs competing for bowl eligibility on Saturday
Last week we noted that 17 staffs were coaching for bowl eligibility and seven met their goals of locking in post-season plans. This week, 16 staffs (some the same, some different) take a crack at locking in holiday plans. Here's where each of them stand heading into Saturday.
Air Force: at San Diego State (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network). Last non-bowl season: 2006. Outlook: Two tough road trips, beginning this week at San Diego State, are sandwiched around a home date with bottom-feeder Hawaii next Friday.
Arizona: vs. Colorado (1:30 p.m. ET, FX). Last bowl appearance: 2010. Outlook: Rich Rod's team is licking its wounds after a tough night at the Rose Bowl, but up next is just what the doctor ordered: Colorado. The Buffs have lost five straight by no less than 28 points.
Arizona State: at USC (3:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network). Last bowl appearance: 2010. Outlook: A 5-1 start has quickly turned into a 5-4 mark with an angry USC at the Coliseum. The Sun Devils get Washington State at home next week before closing the season at Arizona.
BYU: vs. Idaho (10:15 p.m. ET, ESPNU). Last non-bowl season: 2004. Outlook: With losses to Boise State, Notre Dame and Oregon State, it can be argued the Cougars have been victimized by a tough schedule. A 9-4 finish is not out of the question.
Cincinnati: at Temple (12 p.m. ET, Big East Network). Last non-bowl season: 2010. Outlook: The Bearcats are the only six-win team on this list due to their two games with FCS foes.
Iowa State: at Texas (12 p.m. ET, LHN/ABC in Iowa). Last non-bowl season: 2010. Outlook: The opportunity is there for Paul Rhoads and co., as Texas' two worst performances of the season have come in noon kickoffs (against Oklahoma and Kansas). If it doesn't happen this week, the Cyclones visit the Jayhawks on Nov. 17.
Louisiana - Lafayette: at Florida (12 p.m. ET, SEC Network). Last non-bowl season: 2010. Outlook: A win on Saturday at the Swamp would be monumental for Rick Hudspeth's team for reasons other than clinching a second consecutive bowl trip.
Miami (Fla.): at Virginia (12 p.m. ET, ABC). Last bowl appearance: 2010. Outlook: The Hurricanes' administration is currently debating whether or not to self-impose a bowl ban due to its NCAA inquiry, so Al Golden's team could win and still be removed from bowl contention.
Minnesota: at Illinois (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN). Last bowl appearance: 2009. Outlook: A win on Saturday would mean a great deal to Jerry Kill's program. Luckily for the Golden Gophers, they face an Illinois team still looking for its first conference win.
N.C. State: vs. Wake Forest (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3). Last non-bowl season: 2009. Outlook: A two-game slide has kept the Wolfpack on brink of six wins for a third straight game. They will face off with Wake Forest for a spot in the ACC bowl rotation.
Oklahoma State: vs. West Virginia (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC). Last non-bowl season: 2005. Outlook: All things considered, Mike Gundy's team had a strong showing at Kansas State on Saturday night. But, a loss is a loss and they'll need to beat WVU to clinch a bowl spot for the seventh straight season.
Ole Miss: vs. Vanderbilt (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU). Last bowl appearance: 2009. Outlook: This game means a lot to both programs. A win Saturday marks 2012 as a success for Hugh Freeze's first year in Oxford.
Vanderbilt: at Ole Miss (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU). Last bowl non-bowl season: 2010. Outlook: Three straight wins have put James Franklin's team on the brink of a second straight bowl trip. The Commodores have never played in back-to-back bowl games.
Wake Forest: at N.C. State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3). Last non-bowl season: 2010. Outlook: Jim Grobe's bunch is faced with back-to-back road games before closing the year at home with Vanderbilt. It will take a strong performance to get the Demon Deacons bowling for the second straight year.
Washington: vs. Utah (10:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network). Last non-bowl season: 2009. Outlook: A tough early slate is now repeating its benefits. Starting with last week's win over Cal, Washington's final four opponents are a combined 5-20 in league play.
West Virginia: at Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC). Last non-bowl season: 2001. Outlook: Who would have thought a month ago this would even be a question? Stuck in a three-game slide, WVU's skid could hit five with a trip to Oklahoma State this week and a date with OU on Nov. 17. If worse comes to worst, the Mountaineers get Kansas at home to end the year.