James Madison and Jacksonville State are each headed to bowl games for the first time in their programs' histories, filling two openings because there were not enough eligible teams to take all 82 slots.
Both programs are transitioning from the FCS to FBS level, and NCAA rules state schools are not eligible for the postseason for two years during the transition. But because there were not enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all the slots, the Dukes and Gamecocks are allowed to go bowling.
James Madison started the year 10-0 and at one point threatened legal action against the NCAA to become bowl eligible. But after suffering its first loss last week and knowing there was a possibility not enough teams would become bowl eligible, the school chose not to pursue a lawsuit. The Dukes are 11-1 this season, tops in the Sun Belt, but are not eligible for the conference title game.
Jacksonville State finished 8-4 in its first season as an FBS program under coach Rich Rodriguez.
Even with James Madison and Jacksonville State, one more team will be needed to fill all the bowl games this year. Minnesota will have the first opportunity to take that spot based on having the highest APR score among the 5-7 teams.
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said after Minnesota's 28-14 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday that his team would accept a bowl bid if one is offered.
"We'll always accept a bowl bid -- always," he said. "There's so many beneficial things to a bowl game, with practices, with development. To be honest, we might be our best football team in a month if we get everybody back."