BOWL SPECULATION after 12 weeks of the regular season is just that. Speculation.
Only one team has accepted a bowl bid, and that is independent BYU, which will face an opponent from the AAC in the Miami Beach Bowl.
Counting BYU and including the two College Football Playoff semifinal games, there are 76 teams needed to fill all the bowl slots. To qualify for a bowl game, a team must win at least six games.
The past few seasons have resulted in a handful of qualifying teams not playing in a bowl game. So far, 61 teams have become bowl eligible, and 34 have been eliminated from qualifying.
That leaves 33 teams to fill the remaining 15 slots.
There is one significant bowl procedural change this season. Conferences will have more say in where their teams play bowl games, and standings will have little or no bearing on determining those slots.
Since the Dec. 30 Belk Bowl in Charlotte matches an ACC team against an SEC team, there is much speculation that either Clemson or South Carolina will fill one of those slots. But that is speculation.
Then there were eight Three more teams were eliminated in Week 12 of the real college football playoff that is the regular season.
Duke fell to Virginia Tech, Nebraska lost to Wisconsin and Arizona State was stunned by Oregon State. Those three teams all suffered their second losses of the regular season and were eliminated from the field.
Mississippi State also lost to Alabama, but it was the Bulldogs’ first loss of the season. So they remain in contention, along with Alabama from the SEC. The other six teams in the chase include unbeatens Florida State and Marshall as well as Baylor, TCU, Ohio State and Oregon.
Some perspective Melvin Gordon’s record-setting rushing performance for Wisconsin on Saturday needs some context.
Gordon’s 408 yards topped the FBS record 406 yards held by LaDainian Tomlinson for TCU in a 1999 game against Texas-El Paso. Had Gordon played the fourth quarter of Wisconsin’s 59-24 victory against Nebraska, he likely would have broken the NCAA all-division record 441 yards, held by Marietta’s Dante Brown against Baldwin Wallace in 1996.
Gordon averaged 16.3 yards on 25 carries. His total was greater than Wake Forest’s 341 yards on 317 carries in 10 games this season, and short of Washington State’s 10-game total of 436 yards on 201 carries.
Odds and ends Saturday was huge for the SEC East. Georgia and Missouri registered wins against SEC West opponents Auburn and Texas A&M, respectively. That makes the SEC West 9-3 this season against the SEC East. ... In addition to determining the four teams for the College Football Playoff, a 12-person committee also will slot eight teams into the remaining four major bowl games. Those bowls this season include the Orange, Cotton, Peach and Fiesta. Of those eight teams, one is required to be the highest-ranked club from the non-power five conferences. If no team is ranked, then the committee must select a team. That team must be a conference champion. The remaining candidates for that one slot appear to be 10-0 Marshall of Conference USA and the eventual Mountain West champion, either 9-1 Colorado State or 8-2 Boise State. ... Now that Clemson has dropped out of The Associated Press Top 25, it is looking more and more like neither the Tigers nor USC will be ranked in their regular-season finale for the first time since 2008. ... With a 3-5 record in the SEC this season, USC is 44-36 in 10 seasons of SEC play under Steve Spurrier.