The Surprise Bowl Eligible Teams that may have Slipped Under your Radar

Earlier this season, it was looking like it might be a particularly crazy college football season, which is something I personally always root for. Now, suddenly the Heisman is down to Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow, Ohio State managed to win the Big 10 again, and barring a big upset the national championship game will be between Texas and Alabama or Florida. Still, this entire season hasn’t been without it’s pleasant surprises. Virginia Tech isn’t going to win the ACC and the Pac-10 has been wrested from USC’s grip. We’ve got an undefeated TCU to go along with the usual undefeated Boise State. However, those are just some of the surprises college football had for us this season. Quite a few teams had really good seasons for their schools that shouldn’t go without being mention. Here’s but a few of them.

Idaho has played the part of the weak sister to Boise State for a long time now. The most notable thing about them is that Oakland Raiders coach/face punching enthusiast Tom Cable used to coach there. While they couldn’t hold a candle to the Broncos this season, the Vandals put together a 7-5 campaign that has them bowl eligible for the first time since 1998. This can only mean one thing; Robb Akey will be the next coach of the Raiders. It only makes sense.

Temple is known for two things: Basketball and Bill Cosby, and these days neither the hoops team or Dr. Cosby are exactly firing on all cylinders. Temple hasn’t had a winning season since 1990, they haven’t been to a bowl since 1979, and even then it was held in New Jersey. However, the Owls stunningly pulled off a 9-3 record and almost won their division of the MAC. Unfortunately, they were bested by the Ohio Bobcats, who now get the honor of losing to Central Michigan in the MAC title game.

Once upon a time, SMU was a vaunted football university. They went to bowl games, won the old Southwest Conference on numerous occasions, all of that good stuff. Then, in 1987 they received the NCAA’s first and only "death penalty" which terminated the program briefly and decimated it. Since 1984, the Mustangs haven’t been to a bowl and they’ve only had two winning seasons since the death penalty. However, they were able to lure June Jones away from Hawaii to be their head coach last season, and in short order he has them returning to a bowl, fittingly the Hawaii Bowl, with a 7-5 record. Considering the fact every player on team wasn’t alive when SMU was pulling their hijinx, you certainly can’t hold the university’s prior transgressions against them. Good for June Jones and his players for restoring some face to the once proud team.

There are some other good stories, of course. Both Northwestern and Stanford had 8-4 seasons (I have a soft spot for the academic schools). Connecticut overcame the tragedy that befell their team to become bowl eligible. Wyoming is bowl eligible, which I always find amusing. So while it may be status quo at the top of college football (though we should still get an exciting title game) there are plenty of good stories further down the list. To me, that is what the best thing about college football is. Not watching the same old juggernauts racking up conference titles, but the teams that have good seasons by their standards out of nowhere. This year, it was team’s like Idaho, Temple, and SMU, who knows who it will be next year. Here’s a team I am tipping early: There is this little school in Indiana called "Notre Dame" that I’ve been hearing some buzz about. They might be in line for a good season, so keep an eye on them.