While many are focused on the Top 25 teams this time of year there is also a second tier of schools to pay attention too. The goal for these teams is to get to six wins and become bowl eligible. For some this is a regression but for others going 6-6 is the Holy Grail. Welcome to the Wheel of Mediocrity.
Arizona: 3-2 record, No. 36 Sagarin ranking
The Wildcats started the year off strong winning their first three games but played nobody. The average Sagarin ranking of those three teams was 124. When Zona moved into PAC-12 play it was knocked out at No. 16 Washington 31-13 and failed to win at lame duck USC 38-31. The Trojans just fired their coach so how can you lose to them?
Odds of getting to six wins: 40 percent
Arizona still has to play ranked conference schools Oregon and UCLA so that’s two losses right there. Winning at Arizona State will be a stretch. The two bottom feeders in the conference in California and Colorado are on the road. Arizona must win two of its next three games against Colorado, Cal and this Saturday hosting Utah to give itself a chance. It will be a tall order to achieve mediocrity for the Wildcats.
Boston College: 3-3 record, No. 64 Sagarin ranking
Like Arizona, Boston College had a bad loss to USC only it was a terrible score of 35-7. The good news is BC avoided getting blown out when it played top ranked Florida State and Clemson. At 3-3, Boston College has more wins than last year (2-10) and is making fun of the several experts who thought it would finish dead last the Atlantic division.
Odds of getting to six wins: 55 percent
The Eagles have an easier schedule to close out the year with only one ranked team remaining (Virginia Tech). Problem is four out its six last games are on the road where BC is 0-2 on the year. One of those is cupcake New Mexico State. The other three are middle to back of the pack ACC teams. The Eagles should get six wins but it will need to prove itself against teams like North Carolina and Syracuse on the road to do so.
Indiana: 3-3 record, No. 47 Sagarin ranking
Here is a school where a .500 record causes a championship level celebration. The Hoosiers went 1-11 just two years ago and now they have improved to the point of beating Penn State by 20 points. Forget the fact the defense is horrid, Indiana football has finally advanced to mediocrity’s doorstep! Hallelujah!
Odds of getting to six wins: 60 percent
IU will lose at Michigan, at Wisconsin and at Ohio State. This means it must win hosting Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue. Those latter three teams are all struggling right now and the Hoosiers get them all at home. Minnesota might be the trickiest win and maybe Purdue too being a rivalry game. But if Indiana can beat Penn State then it should win out in Bloomington to become bowl eligible.
Mississippi State: 3-3 record, No. 52 Sagarin ranking
Mississippi State has not proven much this season losing when it was an underdog and beating the teams it was favored against. That was almost not the case as it darn near blew last week’s game against MAC underdog Bowling Green State. The Falcons had a dropped pass on fourth down allowing the Bulldogs to win 21-20 and avoid snickering from around the nation.
Odds of getting to six wins: 35 percent
Miss. State has three upcoming losses in South Carolina, Texas A&M, and Alabama. The good news is home games against Kentucky, rival Ole Miss, and at 3-4 Arkansas are also upcoming. The Bulldogs will be favored against Kentucky and it will be even against Ole Miss and Arkansas. Winning all three though will require some lucky breaks and big strides in the passing game. I think it will be too much to handle this season.
North Texas: (3-3) record, No. 76 Sagarin ranking
The North Texas Mean Green has adjusted to life in Conference USA rather well with a big conference win over Middle Tennessee State and handed Ball State its only loss on the year. Not bad for a team that was previously picked by some to finish 6th out the seven teams in Conference USA West division.
Odds of getting to six wins: 90 percent
North Texas has games against 2-4 Louisiana Tech, 2-4 Tulsa, 2-5 UTSA, 1-5 UTEP, and 0-5 Southern Miss. The Mean Green only needs to win three of those five so no excuses here. Congrats North Texas, you are at least mediocre if not slightly better.