Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois all failed to record the requisite six wins to become bowl eligible. But that's not going to prevent them from making postseason appearances.
After last week wrapped up, math dictated that there weren't going to be enough six-win teams to fill the 80 bowl spots in the 40 bowl games this postseason. That means 5-7 teams will be playing in bowls. How many still remains to be determined: It will for sure be two, it could be as many as five.
The NCAA announced Monday afternoon that which 5-7 teams become first in line for vacant bowl spots will be determined by APR, or Academic Progress Rate.
And, among teams with five wins, guess who's No. 1 when it comes to APR? Nebraska.
Yes, the Huskers are going bowling.
[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Huskers gear right here]
And other Big Ten teams might not be far behind.
Missouri ranked second in APR, though the Tigers announced they wouldn't accept a bowl invitation, what with their ongoing search for a new head football coach. That puts Kansas State next in line, though the Wildcats are among three teams playing this weekend that could reach the six-win mark, so they're in regardless of this weekend's outcome. If K-State wins, it's in with its six wins. If it loses, it's in thanks to its APR ranking, and a third spot for a five-win team would open up.
Next in line? Bingo, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. But the Gophers aren't exactly guaranteed a postseason berth at this time because they're tied in APR with San Jose State. If the other two five-win teams playing this weekend — Georgia State and South Alabama — both win, then there would need to be some sort of tiebreaker to pick between Minnesota and San Jose State. But if either of those teams lose, both the Gophers and the Spartans would be in.
If both Georgia State and South Alabama lose, that could open the door for another Big Ten team, Illinois. The Illini rank behind Minnesota and San Jose State in APR, tied with Rice. If there are five open slots for 5-7 teams, it would be down to the Illini and Owls for the final spot.
The teams can of course do what Missouri did and turn down bowl invitations. But coaches are typically so ecstatic to have a month of extra practices and a postseason experience for their players, that it seems generally unlikely.
(h/t to ESPN's Brett McMurphy, who provided the pertinent APR rankings in a story this weekend)