Wins for Ball State, Bowling Green give MAC six bowl eligible teams

Ball State and Bowling Green earned bowl eligibility on Saturday, giving the MAC six teams available for postseason selection.(US Presswire)

Believe it or not, the MAC is one of the conferences leading the way on the race to bowl eligibility. The conference has gotten credit for several big non-conference upsets, but after nine weeks of action the Mid-American conference is second only to the SEC in number of bowl eligible teams.

Wins for Ball State and Bowling Green on Saturday gave the conference six teams meeting eligible for a bowl bid. The SEC has seven teams with the required six wins, while the Pac-12 falls behind the MAC with five.

Bowl organizers might actually be the most excited group about this news. There have been concerns in recent weeks that there might not be enough bowl eligible teams to fill all of the slots. The MAC only has three bowl affiliations set in stone, so the excess of bowl eligible teams will allow other games to fill spots where the committed conference might be short on participants.

It is a small footnote in what has already become a memorable season for the conference. MAC teams have been rising to the challenge in non-conference competition, most recently knocking off Cincinnati and Rutgers - both undefeated heading into the game.

In honor of the MAC's impressive start, we take a look at the six bowl eligible teams - how they got here, and where they stand in the conference title race.

MAC Going Bowling
Team How They Got Here
Northern Illinois
Overall: 8-1
Conference: 5-0
Northern Illinios has run off eight wins a row since dropping their season-opener to Iowa. In five of those games, quarterback Jordan Lynch has thrown for over 200 yards while adding 100+ more yards on the ground. With six touchdowns (four passing, two touchdowns) on Saturday, Lynch overtook Kent State's Dri Archer for No. 1 in the conference with 19 offensive touchdowns. They are on a collision course with Toledo for control of the West.
Overall: 8-1
Conference: 5-0
Toledo narrowly escaped Week 9 with a 25-20 win on the road against Buffalo. They will take Week 10 off then return to action with three straight weeks of weeknight games. First Ball State, then the aforementioned showdown with co-division leader Northern Illinois. The Rockets broke Cincinnati's undefeated start, in addition to forcing overtime against Arizona in the season opener.
Kent State
Overall: 7-1
Conference: 4-0
The Golden Flashes were bowl eligible heading into Week 9, but made Saturday memorable with their upset victory at Rutgers. It is win No. 11 in Kent State's last 13 contests, and guarantees the program's first winning season in more than a decade. Bowl eligibility is a huge deal for this program, which has not made a postseason trip since the 1972 Tangerine Bowl.
Bowling Green
Overall: 6-3
Conference: 4-1
Since getting blown out 37-0 by Virginia Tech on Sept. 22, Bowling Green has not allowed more than 12 points on defense. Their 15.2 yards allowed per game ranks in the Top 15 nationally, and in a league where high-powered offenses are the norm the Falcons stand against the grain. After taking Week 10 off, Bowling Green returns to action in a big MAC East battle at Ohio on Nov. 7.
Overall: 7-1
Conference: 3-1
The BCS dreams were likely shattered with a loss to rival Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, but Ohio is still focused on capturing that elusive MAC Championship under head coach Frank Solich. With Bowling Green and Kent State left on the schedule, the Bobcats will have an opportunity to earn tiebreaker advantages that will likely be necessary in a crowded race for the East Division.
Ball State
Overall: 6-3
Conference: 3-2
The Cardinals officially became bowl eligible with their 30-22 victory over Army on Saturday, but they earned it with non-conference victories over Indiana and South Florida. Ball State does not have a FCS team on their schedule, and the postseason will be a reward for beating two BCS AQ schools in the same season for the first time in school history.

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CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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