Georgia Southern rooting guide:
Today — Ohio (5-6) at Miami (OH) (2-9)
Friday — Akron (5-6) at Kent State (1-9)
Friday — Navy (5-5)* at South Alabama (6-5)
Friday — Virginia (5-6) at Virginia Tech (5-6)
Saturday — Cincinnati (7-3) at Temple (5-5)*
Saturday — Miami (6-5) at Pittsburgh (5-6)
Saturday — Michigan (5-6) at Ohio State (10-1)
Saturday — Illinois (5-6) at Northwestern (5-6)
Saturday — Old Dominion (5-6)** at Florida Atlantic (3-8)
Saturday — UAB (5-6) at Southern Miss (3-8)
Saturday — Hawaii (4-8) at Fresno State (5-6)
Saturday — BYU (7-4) at Cal (5-6)
Saturday — Oregon (10-1) at Oregon State (5-6)
Saturday — Tennessee (5-6) at Vanderbilt (3-8)
16 bolded teams need to lose in order to open a bowl slot for Georgia Southern
*Must lose final two games
**Ineligible under same rule as Georgia Southern
The good news is that Georgia Southern is the (a?) 2014 Sun Belt football champion.
The Eagles (8-3, 7-0) can clinch the title outright with a win over UL Monroe on Saturday, or with a UL Lafayette loss against Troy. ULL can share the title with the Eagles with a win and a GSU loss.
The bad news is that the “Bowl Magic Number” currently sits at 16, and there are only 18 teams left who can still fail to qualify for remaining bowl slots.
Basically, 16 more teams need to come up short of six wins for a slot to open up for ineligible Georgia Southern. It’s still mathematically possible, though very, very unlikely.
Worse news than that is that Navy (5-5) and Temple (5-5) both need to lose twice to fail to qualify.
Worse still is that two of the 18 remaining teams left are guaranteed to qualify, because two games this weekend — Virginia at Virginia Tech and Illinois at Northwestern — feature all teams that are 5-6.
Basically, that means that there’s zero room for error. In other words, if Ohio beats Miami of Ohio today, the chances of Georgia Southern playing in a bowl game this season is basically zero, despite the fact that the Eagles are Sun Belt champions.
There is a sliver of hope. Old Dominion won’t get a bid over the Sun Belt champs if it qualifies, and Appalachian State, which has already qualified, won’t get in over GSU either. That makes the magic number 14, based on assumptions. Two more guaranteed failures to qualify in the head-to-head losses makes it 12.
Still, even with the right results from all of this weekend’s conference games, Navy still has to lose to South Alabama and Army, a very unlikely scenario.
But let’s end with the good news.
Georgia Southern will be the sole, undisputed Sun Belt champons with a win on Saturday in Paulson Stadium. Regardless of what happens afterwards, it’s guaranteed to be the Eagles’ last home game of the season.
So shake off that turkey hangover, and get to Paulson Stadium on Saturday.
The Eagles still have work to do.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-0908.