With their 34-27 win over No. 3 Garden City, the Grizzlies put themselves in prime position for a NJCAA bowl game… if there were some bowls left.
Butler heads into the postseason with a 9-3 record, No. 7 in the nation and still are 50-50 on any potential bowl games.
Butler went to the Midwest Bowl last season, knocking off host Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 34-30.
While the Midwest Bowl remains a real possibility for Butler, the lack of bowls is the real issue. Gone are the Arizona bowl games since there are no more Arizona JUCO teams. Gone is the Mississippi bowl due to corporate sponsorship. The Heart of Texas Bowl, which usually hosts the SW Conference winner vs. an at-large team is gone.
Those games only leave five bowl games for the other 55 teams, or in this case, 27 bowl eligible teams.
The one thing that is a given, No. 1 Mississippi Gulf Coast will play No. 2 Lackawanna College in Pittsburg, Kansas on Dec. 5 for the National Championship game. With that, there will be only 25 eligible teams for five bowl games.
No. 3 Hutchinson is the host of the Salt City Bowl in Hutchinson, Kansas as long as they have a winning record. Their impressive season has earned them the right to host the bowl. So, there is zero chance Butler and Hutch will get a rematch.
This brings us to the Graphic Edge bowl games. There are two games, reserved for two Iowa teams, as long as they have winning records, of .500 or better. No. 4 Iowa Western will host the Main Event game and Iowa Central, who sits at .500 will play in the opening game. This leaves no room for the Grizzlies once again as it is unlikely either Iowa team will want to play team a second time. With some simple logic, we’ve just eliminated three of the five bowl games from possibility for Butler.
With the Midwest Classic Bowl and the Red Grange Bowl remaining. The Midwest Classic Bowl makes the most sense for the Grizzlies. They had a win their last year. Butler’s fans travel well and it’s relatively close. Butler’s No. 7 ranking helps. Host school Northeastern Oklahoma A&M is 4-7 on the year and according to the NJCAA, must have a winning record to play in a bowl. There are a few exceptions but they are rare.
The Red Grange Bowl often has allowed the College of DuPage to be the host school. They’re 7-4 this season after going under .500 last year. DuPage has often hosted the Minnesota Conference winner. The proximity to Chicago and Minnesota makes sense.
You can eliminate a handful of schools from real bowl season contention. The ones you should be aware of is Independence, the 2019 KJCCC Champion. Northwest Mississippi, the runner-up in the MACJC. East Mississippi for obvious reasons. Kilgore College, the highest ranked SWJCFC team. New Mexico Military Institute throws a wrench into as the conference champion.
Iowa Western does not shy away from a tough bowl game as they hosted Snow last year, Northwest Mississippi the previous season. Top 10 ranked Holmes in 2016, and ranked Georgia Military in 2015. It could be another top showdown as it could be East Mississippi or Kilgore heading to Iowa in December.
In the opening game of the Graphic Edge Bowl, they’ve typically played either an independent team or a Minnesota team. This could be Georgia Military, ASA Miami or Trinity Valley could be a real fit here.
In the Midwest Classic, the opening of two different schools will either be Butler or Independence vs. Kilgore or Northwest Mississippi. That is, if the Rangers don’t go to Hutch and play the Blue Dragons, in what would be a Top 5 showdown. ASA Brooklyn could be another dark horse for the Salt City Bowl.
No one knows for sure what the Grizzlies can or will get in the bowl selections. Butler should be proud of their season and what they’ve overcome. Most wins since 2015 is laugh at.