Every year, college football fans eagerly await bowl season, where the best teams from around the country compete in a series of highly anticipated games. Bowl games offer an opportunity for teams to showcase their talent on a national level, with the potential for rewarding experiences that can last a lifetime. However, for many fans, the rules surrounding bowl eligibility can be a source of confusion. In this article, we’ll explore the requirements for bowl eligibility and the factors that can impact a team’s chances of being selected. We’ll also take a look back at past bowl game trends, examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on eligibility, and provide a glossary of common bowl game terminology.

NCAA Football Eligibility Rules

The requirements for bowl eligibility are set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). According to NCAA rules, a team must have at least six wins in a season to be considered for a bowl game. Furthermore, a team must have played in a minimum of 12 games in order to be eligible. However, there are important caveats to consider when it comes to bowl eligibility.

In addition to the six-win minimum, teams’ overall win-loss record is also taken into account. In some cases, teams that have more than six wins may not be selected for a bowl game if they have a weak strength of schedule. Conversely, teams with fewer than six wins may be selected if they have played a challenging schedule or if there are not enough eligible teams to fill all the available slots.

Conference Requirements

While the NCAA sets the basic requirements for bowl eligibility, individual conferences may have their own specific requirements that must be met. For example, the Big Ten Conference requires that its teams have at least a .500 record in conference play in order to be eligible for a bowl game. The Pac-12 Conference, on the other hand, requires a team to have at least a .500 record overall, regardless of conference performance. These differing requirements can impact a team’s chances of being selected for a bowl game, depending on their conference affiliation.

Past Bowl Game Trends

So, just how many wins are typically necessary for bowl eligibility? As previously mentioned, six wins is the minimum requirement set by the NCAA. However, in reality, the number of wins required can vary widely depending on a variety of factors. For example, in the 2019 season, 76 teams qualified for bowl games, with some teams being selected with as few as five wins. In other seasons, teams with seven or eight wins may not be selected due to the strength of their schedule or other factors.

Over time, the selection process for bowl games has evolved and become more sophisticated. In the past, bowl game selection was often based purely on win-loss records, with little consideration given to strength of schedule or other factors. However, in recent years, selection committees have become much more discerning in their decisions, taking into account a variety of metrics and factors to determine which teams are truly deserving of a bowl game appearance.

Impact of COVID-19 on Bowl Eligibility

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the world of college football, including the rules surrounding bowl game eligibility. Some conferences have relaxed their rules in light of the pandemic, with several Power 5 conferences – including the Big Ten, Pac-12, and ACC – waiving their minimum win requirements for the 2020 season. This change could have a significant impact on the selection process, potentially opening up new opportunities for teams that may have otherwise been overlooked.

However, some have criticized this decision as potentially diluting the quality of the bowl game matchups. If teams with losing records are allowed to compete, some argue, the overall quality of the games may suffer. It remains to be seen how this decision will play out in the long term, and whether or not it will have a lasting impact on the bowl game landscape.

Notable Exceptions

While six wins is the typical minimum requirement for bowl eligibility, there have been a few notable exceptions over the years. In some cases, teams with five wins have been selected for bowl games, despite not meeting the minimum requirement. These exceptions are rare, however, and are usually made when there are not enough eligible teams to fill all the available slots.

It’s important to note that these exceptions are not a guarantee. Just because a team has five wins does not mean that they will automatically be selected for a bowl game. In general, teams that have six or more wins are much more likely to be selected.

Glossary of Bowl Game Terminology

Before delving further into bowl eligibility, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the terminology used in bowl games. Here are a few common terms you should know:

  • Bowl game: A postseason game in which two teams compete, typically sponsored by a corporation or organization.
  • Bowl game committee: The group responsible for selecting the teams that will participate in a particular bowl game.
  • Bowl game sponsor: The corporation or organization that provides financial support and sponsorship for a particular bowl game.
  • At-large bid: A bid given to a team that has not won its conference, but is still selected to compete in a bowl game.
  • New Year’s Six: The six most prestigious bowl games, played on or around New Year’s Day.

Predicting Eligibility for this Year

So, which teams are likely to be eligible for bowl games this year? Predicting bowl eligibility can be a tricky business, as there are a wide variety of factors that can impact a team’s chances. However, there are a few metrics that experts tend to focus on when making their predictions.

First and foremost, a team’s win-loss record is a major factor in determining eligibility. Other important considerations include a team’s strength of schedule, conference affiliation, and any specific team or program history that may come into play. Taking all of these factors into account, analysts will attempt to predict which teams are most likely to be selected for bowl games, and which matchups are most likely to occur.


In conclusion, bowl eligibility is a complex topic that can be difficult to fully grasp. However, understanding the rules and requirements surrounding eligibility can be incredibly helpful when it comes to predicting which teams will be selected for certain bowl games, and which games are most worth watching. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual viewer, taking the time to learn about bowl eligibility can enhance your appreciation for the sport and make your bowl game viewing experience even more enjoyable.

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By Happy Sharer

Hi, I'm Happy Sharer and I love sharing interesting and useful knowledge with others. I have a passion for learning and enjoy explaining complex concepts in a simple way.

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