Last year was a watershed year for the MAC in bowl participation. Seven MAC teams made it to bowl games, and every MAC team that achieved bowl eligibility played in a bowl game.
This year will likely be much different. It may be more difficult for MAC teams to reach a bowl game other than the three the MAC has contracts with.
The planets aligned for the MAC last year. Four schools from automatic qualifying conferences were ineligible because of NCAA rules violations. All four (Miami(Fl), UNC, Ohio State and Penn State) had winning records, and would have been in bowl games in normal years. Of the remaining teams, just 72 teams achieved bowl eligibility to fill the 70 bowl spots. Then two teams -- Louisiana Tech and MTSU -- were left out; LA Tech couldn't work out a deal and MTSU was snubbed, despite an 8-4 record. That left just 70 teams. Perfect for the MAC.
That scenario won't happen this season. Only one team is barred from post-season play this year -- Penn State. And realignment has helped bring more teams into the FBS. That means more competition for the bowl slots. Although some of those new teams are at the bottom of the FBS, they're helping to inflate the records of other teams. After six weeks, about 80 teams have three or more wins, which means they have to win half their remaining games, or less, to become bowl eligible. It's likely there will be 75 or more bowl eligible teams this year. And of course AQ schools will be the most attractive to fill vacant slots.
This year, a six or seven-win MAC team probably won't make it to a bowl. Even eight wins might not be enough. The MAC may be lucky to have four teams in bowls this year.