Two of the 5-6 teams, Ball State and Miami (Ohio), play each other Tuesday, meaning that one of those two teams will win a sixth game and take the 74th spot.
That leaves eight more spots. The clearest path for Tech to play in a bowl game is to stun the Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium. But if the Jackets were to lose, their way in would be to have enough other five-win teams also lose to put them in position to claim a spot at 5-7 via their APR score.
In that case, Tech would need to have no more than two of the teams that are 5-6, 5-5 or 4-6 and with lower APR scores win (or win twice in the case of the 4-6 teams), as the five teams ahead of them in APR would get in ahead of the Jackets even if they and Tech all lost to each finish 5-7. If three of those teams with lower APR scores gained bowl eligibility with six wins, for instance, they plus the five ahead of Tech in APR could take up the remaining eight spots and leave out the Jackets.
The odds do not appear in Tech’s favor. Not counting Miami (Ohio) and Ball State, there are nine teams behind Tech in APR that are either 5-6 or 5-5 or 4-6.
Four of them are favored in their games this weekend and two of them have two games to play. One of the four that’s a favorite – Alabama-Birmingham (vs. Louisiana Tech) – is favored by more than two touchdowns. Furthermore, the Army could also be a problem. The Black Knights are 4-6 and heavily favored against Massachusetts. If that game goes in Army’s favor, regardless of the outcome of its season-ending game vs. Navy, the Black Nights will get to five wins. By virtue of an APR score superior to Tech’s, Army would bump Tech down the waiting list if both were 5-7 and further reduce the Jackets’ chances.
Barring the upset of Georgia, it puts the Jackets in longshot position. But certainly much closer than one might have guessed in September.