While they don't deserve to go bowling, there's still a slim chance we could see Michigan State football play in the postseason this year.
The Spartans dropped their final two games of the regular season to fall to 5-7 overall and one game short of automatically locking up a bowl game bid. Losing this past Saturday at Penn State was the expected result after Michigan State let a 17-point lead slip away against lousy Indiana the week prior.
Despite now hitting six wins, there is still an outside chance Michigan State could find themselves in a bowl game - should they want to accept a bowl bid if offered. At the moment there are three spots left open for 5-7 teams to go bowling with those teams being selected by the top Academic Progress Report (APR) rankings. Michigan State is near the top of that list for 5-7 teams so there's still a shot we could see them playing in a bowl game this year.
Here's the relatively unlikely path to a bowl game for Michigan State:
Buffalo loses to Akron
Buffalo will host Akron this week in a makeup matchup for their postponed game earlier this month. Buffalo is currently 5-6 on the year so a victory over the Zips would automatically secure one of the three open bowl bid spots.
Buffalo is favored by nearly two touchdowns in this matchup so a Bulls victory is likely. This game will kick off at 1 p.m. ET on Friday, and can be seen by CBS Sports Network for those interested in watching.
NCAA denies New Mexico State bowl waiver
Brett McMurphy of Action Network reported on Monday that New Mexico State has filed a bowl waiver to become bowl eligible at 5-6. Earlier this year, their matchup with San Jose State was canceled due to a tragic death within the Spartans' program. So, New Mexico State is looking to see if it's possible for the NCAA to gran them a bowl waiver and essentially move ahead of the 5-7 teams for a bowl bid.
With bowl bids being handed out this week and knowing how slow the NCAA operates, it seems unlikely the Aggies' waiver will be granted. But I also have truly no idea which way the NCAA will go here so this is something to keep an eye-on throughout the week.
Rice, UNLV and/or Auburn turn down bowl bid
Depending on how things go in the Buffalo-Akron matchup and New Mexico State's bowl waiver, there could be as little as one or as many as three bowl spots available for 5-7 teams. Michigan State is fourth in line of the 5-7 teams due to APR rankings, behind Rice, UNLV and Auburn (in that order). So, if things were to break the Spartans' way in the first two conditions, then it would only take one of those three teams to turn down the bowl bid for Michigan State to have the opportunity to go bowling. If both Buffalo wins and New Mexico State is granted their bowl waiver, then it would take all three of those teams to turn down bowl bids for Michigan State to have the opportunity.
The best shot of anyone turning down a bowl bid would be Auburn since they are in the midst of hiring a new coach and may want to just close out the season here. But even then, the opportunity for them to play in another game may be enticing enough for the program to say yes if offered a bowl bid.
When outlining the conditions, it seems very unlikely Michigan State will be playing in a bowl game this year. It's not impossible, but a lot of things would need to break the Spartans way AND they'd also need to accept the bowl bid should it be offered to them. I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan State were to turn down a bowl bid if offered since they've been battling injuries for weeks and may be ready to just move onto the offseason.
So, while there's still an outside chance that we'll be getting one more Michigan State game this year, I wouldn't bank on it. It's time to turn our focus to the offseason and how Michigan State can get things back on track for next year.
Bowl game matchups will officially announced throughout this week and by Sunday at the latest.
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Story originally appeared on Spartans Wire