Postseason uncertain for WKU after season finale

Sam Porter

This WKU football team’s senior class has an opportunity to accomplish something very few senior classes are able to accomplish: win four straight bowl games.

On Sunday, Dec. 3, the WKU football team will know what bowl game it will be playing in and its opponent; that is, if the Hilltoppers get a bowl bid.

As of today, a total of 79 teams at the FBS level are eligible to play in a bowl game. With 39 total bowl games, only 78 teams will get the opportunity to play one more time this season. Three teams– Florida State, Louisiana-Lafayette and New Mexico State– sit at 5-6 with one game remaining, meaning potentially 82 teams could end the season bowl eligible.

One team, and most likely two or three teams with a 6-6 record, will not be going bowling despite getting the typically standard six wins to qualify. WKU could very well be one of those teams.

The Hilltoppers finished 6-6 (4-4 Conference USA) and their most impressive win on paper was a 41-38 triple overtime victory against another 6-6 team in Middle Tennessee State. The walk-off victory against the Blue Raiders sits as the only win WKU has against a bowl eligible school, which definitely won’t help its case.

The Hilltoppers concluded their regular season with a 41-17 road loss to Florida International, a team they hadn’t lost to since 2010. The senior class has won 37 games throughout four years on the Hill, and will have to wait until next Sunday to find out if they’ll get a chance to push that number to 38.

“Hopefully the young guys learn from this year. I know the seniors as a class as a whole left their mark on this program,” redshirt senior quarterback Mike White said following the loss to FIU. “Hopefully we get a chance to get our fourth straight bowl win.”

The C-USA has six guaranteed bowl tie-ins, and it appears WKU picked the wrong year to finish 6-6. A total of 10 C-USA teams finished the regular season bowl eligible, the most of any conference in all of college football. The ACC currently has nine, and will have 10 if Florida State wins its last game which was rescheduled due to a hurricane.

Three teams (WKU, MTSU and Louisiana Tech) finished the regular season 6-6 while Texas San-Antonio finished 6-5, meaning none of those four teams will receive the six guaranteed bowl games for C-USA since there are six C-USA teams with at least seven wins.

“I’ve had a heck of a three years here,” White said. “I just hope we haven’t played our last game because I know we can go out better than this.”

Sports Illustrated currently projects WKU to play Army (8-3) in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas on Saturday, Dec. 23. Other bowl projections have WKU in the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Florida on Dec. 16 and the Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas on Dec. 20.

If WKU was to be left out of a bowl game, it would be the third time since moving to the FBS level that the Hilltoppers finished bowl eligible but weren’t invited to a bowl game.

Reporter Sam Porter can be reached at 270-799-8247 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @SammyP14.