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Bowl Projections: Vanderbilt to face Texas, or Maryland, or...Houston?

The Commodores are likely headed to another bowl. Here’s where they might end up.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

For once, Vanderbilt’s sterling academic record is going to have a tangible positive effect on the football program. With one of the highest Academic Progress Rates (APR) in Division I, the Commodores are in line to receive a bowl bid even if they finish the season with five wins.

With more bowl availability than actual six-win teams, the NCAA created an exemption for five-win teams to reach the postseason. Whichever bowls had unfilled slots would offer invitations to 5-7 programs based on their APR.

The APR is essentially a six-year window of academic progress for student athletes on a given team. Unsurprisingly, Vanderbilt does pretty well on the metric. With a score of 990, Vanderbilt ranks fifth among FBS programs.

Ahead of Vandy is:

Duke (4-7)
Wisconsin (9-2, already bowl eligible)
Minnesota (9-2, already bowl eligible)
Northwestern (5-6)

Last year, three five-win teams earned bids. So far in 2016, there are 65 eligible teams and 80 slots available. There are currently 17 five-win teams in the FBS, including Vanderbilt. Only 10 are favored to win their upcoming games. That gives the Commodores pretty strong odds to return to the postseason for the first time since 2013.

College football writers have taken notice, and now Vanderbilt is back among their 2016 bowl projections. Here’s where the experts think the Commodores will spend their postseason.

SB Nation:

Bowl: The Cactus Bowl, Tempe, AZ
Opponent: Texas


Bowl: The Quick Lane Bowl, Detroit, MI
Opponent: Maryland

CBS Sports:

Bowl: The Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, TX
Opponent: Navy

Sports Illustrated:

Bowl: The St. Petersburg Bowl, St. Petersburg, FL
Opponent: Houston*

Sporting News:

Bowl: The Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, Dallas, TX
Opponent: Western Kentucky**

Fox Sports:

Bowl: The Quick Lane Bowl, Detroit, MI
Opponent: Maryland

*Oh god, no.
**Would be amazing solely for the capacity of stupid Matt Bevin tweets.