The energy of the college football season is focused on the playoff race. There’s also significant drama at the bottom of the postseason picture.
To fill all the spaces in the 41 bowl games this season, 82 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision must finish with six or more wins. If not, teams with five wins will be added to the mix.
Here’s the current situation involving the 130 teams eligible to play in the postseason with two weeks left in the season:
► 64 teams have at least six wins.
► 32 teams already are eliminated with at least seven losses.
► The 17 available spots must be filled by the remaining 34 teams.
Some of the biggest programs in the country are still without a confirmed ticket to a bowl game and need either one or two wins in their final games. There are several matchups this weekend that will help secure spots and others that will see teams eliminated:
Virginia Tech (5-5) at Miami (Fla.) (5-5), 7:30 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
It’s a surprise two of the premier teams in the ACC face an uncertain postseason future, but for both the Hokies and Hurricanes there were too many close losses that stalled their campaigns. The good news? One of them will guarantee its spot in a bowl game this week.
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Texas (4-6) at West Virginia (4-6), noon ET (ESPN2)
To say Steve Sarkisian’s first season with the Longhorns has been a disappointment would be an understatement. On a five-game losing streak, Texas needs to beat the Mountaineers, who also harbor bowl aspirations, and Kansas State next week to avoid missing a bowl for the first time since 2015.
Florida (5-5) at Missouri (5-5), 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Crazy as it seems, this looks like a must-win for Dan Mullen. But the Gators can still salvage seven wins and some respectability. Last week’s victory by the Tigers puts them in position to extend their season by winning this home game or their trip to Arkansas.
UCLA (6-4) at Southern California (4-5), 4 p.m. ET (Fox)
The tables have drastically turned in this Los Angeles rivalry as the Trojans must win two of their last three to finish with six victories, while the Bruins are headed for the postseason for the first time in Chip Kelly’s tenure. UCLA would like nothing more than to continue USC’s implosion.
Auburn (6-4) at South Carolina (5-5), 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Gamecocks had their chance to reach six wins last week and fell short at Missouri. With a trip looming to rival Clemson, this is probably their best chance with the Tigers missing starting quarterback Bo Nix due to an injury.
Florida State (4-6) at Boston College (6-4), noon ET (ACC Network)
Four wins in six games has the improving Seminoles in position to reach the postseason if they can go on the road and beat the Eagles and then win at Florida. It’s going to be difficult, but it beats the alternative of having no hope.
South Alabama (5-5) at Tennessee (5-5), 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Given their turbulent offseason, the Volunteers being one win from a bowl game is a testament to how well Josh Heupel has infused some life into the program. The Jaguars should be an easy win even though they’ve got motivation of their own with Coastal Carolina coming to town on the final weekend.
Washington (4-6) at Colorado (3-7), 3 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
In what has been mostly a lost campaign for the Huskies, they have a realistic chance of furthering their season with wins against the Buffaloes and rival Washington State. Many of their losses have been close, so it just means they need to get over the hump in the final two weeks.
Illinois (4-6) at Iowa (8-2), 2 p.m. ET (FS1)
It might seem unrealistic for the Illini to pull off an upset of the Hawkeyes, but they have already beaten Penn State and Minnesota on the road. This shapes up to be a close game and with Northwestern on deck, the opportunity is there for Illinois.
Old Dominion (4-6) at Middle Tennessee (5-5), 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Conference USA has five teams fighting to reach the postseason. This is the only game matching two of them together. The Blue Raiders have the benefit of playing at home. The Monarchs have momentum with three consecutive wins after their hopes seemed improbable.