MTSU’s Blue Raiders did not receive a bid to participate in any of the bowl games this year, despite the team’s eligibility.
It is a disappointing end to a disappointing season for the Blue Raiders. They finished the season 6-6 and 5-3 in Conference-USA. A bowl seemed to be easily in their grasp when they started the season 5-3, but they faltered down the home stretch, going 1-3 in their last four games.
The Blue Raiders still had a chance to go to a bowl game heading into their last game of the season against Texas at El Paso (7-5, 5-3 C-USA). Both teams had six wins and were essentially playing for a bowl game. MTSU would lose to the Miners, turning the ball over on an Austin Grammer interception on a potential game-winning or game-tying drive.
This left the Blue Raiders on the outside looking in for a bowl opportunity. C-USA had five primary bowl games, and there were five teams in the conference with seven wins or more: Marshall, UTEP, Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech and Rice.
Their bowl chances would take another hit when then undefeated Marshall would lose to WKU on Nov. 28.
At the time, the Thundering Herd were hoping to finish as the highest-ranked non-power-five conference champion in the College Football Playoff rankings. Under CFP rules, the highest-ranked non-power-five conference champion would play in one of the six New Year’s Day bowl games. With the loss, Marshall’s chances of playing in one of the six New Year’s Day games were dashed. This meant that Marshall would instead take one of C-USA’s five primary bowl bids.
On Sunday, C-USA’s five bowl games were announced as follows – Marshall (Boca Raton Bowl), WKU (Popeyes Bahamas Bowl), Rice (Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl), Louisiana Tech (Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl), and UTEP (Gildan New Mexico Bowl). MTSU’s only other chance to go to a bowl game would have been through an at-large bid from another bowl game. No such opportunity came up though, and the Blue Raiders were left out of the postseason.
The Blue Raiders had hoped to go to back-to-back bowl games for only the third time in school history. This season marked the sixth time in nine seasons that they have been bowl eligible under head coach Rick Stockstill.
This is the second time under Stockstill that the Blue Raiders have been bowl eligible but have been left out of a bowl game. The same thing happened in 2012 when MTSU was a part of the Sun Belt Conference. They went 8-4 that year but were left out of a bowl game.
The long offseason now awaits for the Blue Raiders with much to think about on what could have been for the 2014 season.
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