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Am I a Bowl Team?

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For decades, Big Ten powerhouses were shut out of the postseason by the league's strict prohibition against such reward for all but the conference champion. Well screeeeewww that! In the 21st Century, everyone gets rewards! Live! On ESPN Classic!

So much so, in fact, it can be difficult to determine just who is and is not going bowling these days. Below is the detailed resume of a Bowl Subdivision program which may or may not have accepted a gracious invitation to a postseason contest. Your challenge, knowledgable reader, is to put yourself to the test: can you tell whether or not the program described below is scheduled for a bowl game, without looking? Give it your best shot, then click 'Read More' to reveal the secret identity of today's contestant. Good luck!
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My Resumé
Avg. MOV +/- -6.39
Rush Offense 130.7 (85)
Pass Eff. Offense 109.1 (102)
Total Offense 366.9 (78)
Rush Defense 168.5 (76)
Pass Eff. Defense 123.8 (59)
Total Defense 375.4 (55)
TO Margin -3 (78)
Wins over >.500 One
Best Win +33 vs. JS#80
Worst Loss -7 vs. JS#129
Best Streak W3 (9/29-10/13)
Worst Streak L3 (9/08-9/22)
Am I a conference champion? No, but close: I finished tied for the third-best conference record in my league and for fourth in wins overall. This is a huge improvement over my 11th-place finish in 2006, my worst season since 1988. Although losing my starting running back for the season in September and my starting quarterback in early October – I finished the final eight games with a three-man rotation and an untested sophomore in the backfield – I tripled last year’s win total and entered the final weekend of the season with a good chance to secure the conference championship before falling just short.

Was I humiliated on multiple occasions? Yes. After losing a road upset bid in a four-and-a-half-hour, two-overtime heartbreaker in the second game of the season, I came back home to lose by 37 to my most hated nearby rival and then went on the road the following weekend to get hammered by 42 while yielding the highest single-game yardage total my opponent – a team that’s been to four conference championship games and a BCS bowl since 2001 – had gained in at least a decade. In-conference, I lost to two non-bowl teams that finished behind me in the standings.

The high point: Coming off two straight wins in early October, I ambushed the team that would finish with the conference’s best overall winning percentage in a true beatdown, easily the biggest win of my season and the worst loss of my otherwise accomplished opponent’s. After the earlier struggles on defense, I delivered this time with four sacks and three forced turnovers and pounded out a 237-yard advantage on the ground. The game was far out of reach by halftime.

The low point: It was a win, but I also served as half of probably the ugliest nationally televised game in history in November, a contest that ended with 726 yards on 18 punts, nine turnovers and zero points scored by either offense. That one Dolphins-Steelers game in a Monday night monsoon was a titanic display of skill by comparison, and we didn’t even have the weather as an excuse. At one point, I was intercepted on three consecutive possessions, and only won with a seven-yard fumble return for a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter.

Close calls: I’d be nowhere without them – my first win of the season was a dramatic comeback for the winning touchdown with 17 seconds to play, and four other wins were by seven points or less. Prior to the 7-0 thriller recounted above, I won games 17-14, 20-13 and 31-28, though it should be noted that two of those games were only close because of my own recklessness (turnovers!) and late, ultimately meaningless scores by my vanquished foes.

The previously mentioned loss in double overtime was the only game I close to winning but didn’t.

So: you have the facts. Am I a bowl team?

NO!

(Lonely tuba: wump-wump-waaaaaaah)

Miami, Ohio, opened the season 1-3 with losses to Minnesota (the Gophers' only win), Cincinnati and Colorado, but rebounded to finish 5-2 in the MAC - technically, because of the bizarre scheduling "quirks" of a 13-team conference, this was a half-game behind East Division rival Bowling Green, which finished 6-2. But since the Redhawks blew the Falcons off the field, 47-14, in October, Miami drew the tiebreaker bid to the MAC Championship, where they were routed in the second half by Central Michigan and barred from the postseason at 6-7 overall.  

They'd have taken you if they could, guys! Better luck next time!