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ASU Football: Is five wins enough to get the Sun Devils to a bowl game?

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Even if the maroon and gold drop their final two games, there is a chance they could still go bowling.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While Arizona State is still one win away from becoming bowl eligible, there is a possibility that the team could still make a bowl game even if it finishes 5-7. With the number of postseason contests increasing to 40 this year, it is looking unlikely that 80 FBS teams will finish with a 6-6 record or better.

So the question is, what happens then?

The NCAA has implemented a contingency plan for this very scenario, with numerous steps that can be taken to insure all of the bowl spots are filled. This year, however, only three possible scenarios will come into play.

For starters, the loser of the Mountain West Championship game could finish with a 6-7 record. That would be the first non 6-6 team accepted into a bowl.

Second, there is the small chance that Colorado could win out and finish 6-7. They played 13 regular season games because of the Hawaii exception, and they would be the next team invited.

The last group of teams to be chosen would be based on 5-7 finishers in order of their Academic Progress Rate standing. This is where the Sun Devils come into play. Their last APR score was a 949, which puts them squarely in the mix to be selected from this pool of teams. Below, we take a look at just how likely it is the maroon and gold qualify for a bowl game this way.

Current bowl eligible teams: 62

With 62 teams currently eligible, 18 spots still need to be filled.

Teams one win away: 17 (Not counting ASU, for the sake of this exercise)

Most of these teams have two games remaining, and at least 11 of them should be able to win one and get to the six-win plateau. However, the teams that Arizona State should be focused on are the ones ranked below it in APR, since the teams that scored better would be selected ahead of the Sun Devils anyway. This nifty chart of current five-win teams should help clarify things.

Team APR Score
Nebraska 985
Utah State 985
Virginia Tech 977
Missouri 976
Middle Tennessee State 973
Illinois 973
Auburn 968
Connecticut 960
Old Dominion 951
Arizona State 949
Central Michigan 949
Buffalo 948
Akron 947
Colorado State 944
South Alabama 943
West Virginia 942
Tulsa 941
Florida International 933

Could Arizona State's work in the classroom be its ticket to a bowl? It is certainly possible. The wild cards here are the four-win teams that could play their way into contention. There are 11 of those right now, and we will be keeping an eye on the results of their games this weekend.

Of course, everything would be a lot simpler if the Sun Devils could just win one of their final two games. But in a season that has been as unpredictable as this one, it is nice to know there might be a backup plan in case things go wrong.