I can't quite explain why, but I spend a lot of time keeping track of bowl eligibility - who's in, who's out, and who really needs to win this week because their next 3 games are brutal. Especially when it gets down to the end of the season and fans of 6-6 teams are paying close attention to the MAC and Sun Belt results. And since I can sum it up and post it here, why not take advantage of it?
So I'll go through conference by conference. The teams listed under "In" or "Out" in bold are officially eligible or non-eligible, the others are just, IMO, virtually certain one way or the other. And a note, teams that need 7 wins, either because of scheduling 2 I-AA teams or playing 13 games: Rutgers, South Florida, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Mississippi, Kansas State, Hawaii, Boise State, New Mexico State and Navy. (Duke scheduled 2 1-AA teams but lost to one of them.)
In: Boise State, Idaho
Out: Hawaii, San Jose State, Utah State, New Mexico State
Bubble: Fresno State - OK, they're going to get in. I just couldn't bring myself to list a 3-3 team as "In".
Nevada - They're also a pretty sure yes, but they have looked shaky at times. Also, 3-3.
Louisiana Tech - This is where the "How good is Idaho, anyway?" question plays a big part. La. Tech should beat Utah St. and San Jose, and should lose to Boise and LSU. Then they need to either win at Fresno or at Idaho. Normally, I'd chalk that up as "no problem", but this year, we're just going to have to wait and see,
In: Boston College, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia Tech
Bubble: OK, the ACC is just a mess. I assume they'll have about 6-7 teams eligible, but I have no real idea who. There's a good summary of it over at http://www.bcinterruption.com/2009/10/20/1092515/headlines-swofford-we-have-a . I will be honest, it's not that hard to come up with a scenario where the 4 teams above are the only ones who are eligible.
In: Cincinnati, Pitt, West Virginia
Bubble: USF: They're in good shape, but they do need to get to 7 wins, and they have a history of crashing and burning in the second half. It'd be quite a flameout, though
Connecticut: They also should be OK, needing 2 wins with home games against Rutgers, Syracuse and USF left. Hopefully the murder of Jasper Howard doesn't send them reeling.
Rutgers: Not quite as certain, since it's still up in the air how good they really are. They need 3 wins, but have Army, Syracuse & Louisville left (though all on the road). They really should make it.
Syracuse: Still hanging around, they'd need wins against Akron and Rutgers at home, and Louisville and UConn on the road. None of those would be a shock, but all 4 is probably asking too much.
In: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin
Out: Illinois, Purdue
Bubble: Indiana/Northwestern: They both need 2 wins, and they have almost identical schedules. 1 game against a team they should really beat (Purdue/Illinois), 3 that they probably shouldn't (Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin for both of them), and playing each other this Saturday. It isn't quite an elimination game, but that's the way I'd bet.
In: Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech
Out: Baylor, Colorado, Texas A&M
Bubble: Oklahoma: Again, they're almost certainly in, but I get twitchy about 3-3 teams. And the only definite wins on the schedule are Kansas State and Texas A&M.
Iowa State: They need 2 wins, and with Texas A&M and Colorado on the schedule, they could certainly get them. In pretty good shape.
Kansas State: Also need 2 wins, but the schedule isn't quite as friendly, and they're probably not quite as good. Pretty much a toss-up.
In: Arizona, California, Oregon, Oregon State, USC
Out: Washington State
Bubble: Arizona State: 2 wins needed, and they appear to be a good enough team to pick them up somewhere.
UCLA: They have to win 3, but they still have Wazzu left, so it's really 2. Like Arizona State, they look decent enough that they should find them somewhere.
Stanford: If you assume they lose to Oregon and USC, they have to win 2 out of 3 vs. Arizona State, Cal and Notre Dame. That's not ridiculous, but it wouldn't seem the most likely outcome. I would lean towards no, but not too strongly.
Washington: Even with an assumed win over Wazzu, they have Cal and Oregon at home, and Oregon State and UCLA on the road, needing 2 wins. They're a good story, but I don't think they're getting to a bowl.
In: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, South Carolina
Out: Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
Bubble: Arkansas/Kentucky: Both are only out because of the 3-3 rule, both have 2 easy non-conference games and Mississippi State left, and Kentucky also has Vanderbilt. They're both fine.
Georgia: Has a 1-AA left but also needs a win from Florida, Auburn, Kentucky or Georgia Tech. They certainly should get 1 win, but there isn't a gimmie in that group.
Tennessee: Needs 3 wins, but has Memphis, Vandy and Kentucky left. Based on history, that should be enough, but, well, Jonathan Crompton.
Mississippi: A 1-AA, Mississippi State, and 1 more win. Unless everyone was completely wrong about them, they should find the win they need.
In: Navy, Notre Dame
Bubble: Army: North Texas and VMI should be no problem, but they still need one more from Rutgers, Air Force or Navy. I think the odds are against them, but it is certainly possible, and you never know what might happen in a rivalry game.
In: Houston, Tulsa
Out: Memphis, Rice
Bubble: I don't follow C-USA that closely, so this is even guessier than everything else. Marshall, East Carolina and Southern Miss all have 4 wins and reasonable schedules, I think they all will make the cut. After that, I would say SMU and UCF have decent but not great chances, and UTEP, Tulane and UAB would need to get on a strong roll.
In: Central Michigan, see below
Out: Akron, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Miami
Bubble: The MAC is weird this year. The 4 "Out" teams are a combined 1-25. Assuming that this continues, that would make Northern Illinois (who gets to play all 4 in a row) , Toledo, Ohio and Temple bowl-eligible, with Bowling Green and Western Michigan needing just 1 other win. I do expect an upset or 2 somewhere, so I'd rather not put them all "In" just yet.
Buffalo and Kent State would need 2 wins beyond beating the Frightful Four, but haven't beaten anyone good, so for now I'd assume they probably won't make it. 9 MAC bowl-eligible teams would be impressive, though.
In: BYU, TCU, Utah
Out: New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Bubble: Air Force: They need 2 out of 3 against Colorado State, Army, and UNLV. That shouldn't pose a major problem.
Colorado State: They need 3 wins, but have already played the top 3 teams, and haven't played the bottom 3 at all. Then again, they lost to Idaho, so how good can they be? They probably make it.
Wyoming: If they don't pull off an upset, they need to win at San Diego St. and Colorado St. That's doable, but not easy. Not sure how I lean on them.
In: Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Troy
Out: Arkansas State, FAU, FIU, North Texas, Western Kentucky
Bubble: MTSU: The Sun Belt is really stratified, with the "In"s a combined 12-6, and the outs 4-24. MTSU is in the middle at 3-3, but if they beat the teams they should beat, they'll be in.
Whew. The good thing about this is it gets shorter every week.
Anyway, if you made it this far, here are the games for this weekend that could have big bubble impacts:
Indiana at Northwestern: As close to an elimination game as you'll find this early.
Florida State at North Carolina (Thurs.) Georgia Tech at Virginia, Wake Forest at Navy, Clemson at Miami, Maryland at Duke: Pretty much every ACC game for the foreseeable future.
Colorado at Kansas State: If Kansas State doesn't win this game, they're probably not going anywhere.
Arizona State at Stanford: Stanford's in a lot of trouble if they lose this
Rutgers at Army (Fri.): The winner is in pretty good shape, the loser will be in strong danger of not making it.
Arkansas at Ole Miss: The winner is pretty much a shoo-in, but the loser still has a good shot.
UCLA at Arizona: Both teams could use this win
Iowa State at Nebraska: This would be huge for the Cyclones
UAB at Marshall, Tulane at Southern Miss: Like the ACC, most C-USA games will have an impact.
Buffalo at W. Michigan: They both need a win against a decent team at some point.