Hopefully uploading this early enough that itâ€™ll get posted to Facebook before tomorrow evening. (Oh snap!) Anyway, hereâ€™s my final take on trying to figure out who is going where. (Note that the main page will be updated as announcements are made throughout the day.)
Nothing changes here except the conference winners are now known. Iâ€™m actually pretty excited about Wisconsin-TCU and VPI-Stanford, not to mention the title game. Iâ€™m trying to figure out how UConn isnâ€™t going to get obliterated by Oklahoma, but themâ€™s the breaks for the Fiesta, but donâ€™t feel to sorry for them as theyâ€™ll get first crack at this thing next year. (And, honestly, you shouldnâ€™t really feel sorry for big bowl games anyway. Being a BCS bowl game commissioner is probably the cushiest job on the planet.)
For the below Iâ€™m going to start with conferences where things are well-known and go from there. At this point, the ACC and SEC probably have the most uncertainty, so Iâ€™ll do them last.
With UConnâ€™s 19-16 win over South Florida, all Big East teams should get into Big East affiliated bowls, provided the Champs Sports likes its chances with West Virginia over Notre Dame. Since the Champs only gets to take Notre Dame once every four years under their new deal with the Big East, they may elect to take a well-traveling Mountaineer posse and try their luck with ND next year. From there, itâ€™s pretty much just letting things fall where they may. Pitt will probably head to the Car Care Bowl, and Syracuse has already accepted an invite to the Pinstripe Bowl. The only other question is how the Compass and St. Petersburg Bowls shake out. Right now I have the St. Pete wanting to get USF (again), and so sticking the Compass with Louisville. It could easily work out the other way, though.
Oklahoma won the whole thing, and the Cotton has already grabbed Texas A&M. So we first go to the Alamo, which is basically picking between Oklahoma State and Nebraska. Since the Alamo just started a new deal with the Pac-10 and Big 12, I have to think theyâ€™ll grab their last chance to take the Cornhuskers, which relegates Oklahoma State to the Insight. That said, those two could easily switch places. Either way, though, I think Missouri lands in the Holiday Bowl. With Kansas State already in with the Pinstripe Bowl, this leaves two slots (the Texas Bowl and TicketCity Bowl) for two teams, Baylor and Texas Tech. I think theyâ€™ll go in that order.
The Pac-10 managed to avoid its nightmare scenario Saturday, with Oregon beating Oregon State and Washington managing to hang on for dear life in the Apple Cup. Oregon and Stanford will be in the BCS barring any shenanigans that see Stanford getting passed in the polls, so that leaves Arizona and Washington for two bowl spots, the Alamo and Holiday. I donâ€™t really know why, but Iâ€™m putting Arizona in the Alamo and Washington in the Holiday. I donâ€™t think Arizona fans will be particularly excited with their overtime loss to Arizona State, while after the thrill of victory Washington fans may realize beating Wazzou by a touchdown isnâ€™t really that much of an accomplishment. However, among bowl types I think Arizona probably has the better reputation and the Alamo gets first pick.
Mid-Majors and Independents
Several mid-major conference games are basically set. The New Mexico Bowl will pit UTEP and BYU, Utah will (probably) face Boise State in Las Vegas, Navy will face San Diego State in the Poinsettia, Hawaii will face Tulsa, and Army will play Southern Methodist at the Armed Forces Bowl in SMUâ€™s home stadium. The other WAC bids are basically set as well, with Nevada going to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, leaving Fresno to head up to Boise.
The Mountain West already announced its bids earlier this week. The only one I didnâ€™t mention above is Air Force in the Independence.
After its win in the C-USA title game, Central Florida is headed to the Liberty Bowl. From there, the other C-USA bids fell into place, with Tulsa heading to Hawaii, ECU heading up to the Military Bowl, and Southern Mississippi headed to the St. Petersburg. Astute readers will note that the C-USA slot in the New Orleans Bowl is not filled- this is due to SMU going to the Armed Forces Bowl, filling a slot left open by the lack of a Mountain West team.
With MTSU beating FIU yesterday, the Sun Belt has three bowl eligible teams: those two and Troy. Thanks to the Big Ten being a team short, this gives the Sun Belt three slots to fill: New Orelans, godaddy.com, and Little Ceasars. Iâ€™m currently putting Troy in the godaddy.com as itâ€™s in nearby Mobile, AL. From there, Iâ€™m sending MTSU to the Little Ceasars since they went to New Orleans last year, leaving FIU to go to the Big Easy.
What about Notre Dame? Well, if the Champs takes West Virginia, most sources seem to think the Sun Bowl will take the Irish. I agree with this train of thought, especially if it sets up the Notre Dame-Miami matchup that the Sun Bowl folks really coveted (until Miami lost last weekend and fired their coach, anyway).
This leads us to the MAC. The MAC has six qualified teams: conference champ Miami, runner-up Northern Illinois, and then Ohio, Temple, Toledo, and Western Michigan. The MAC has three guaranteed bids (Little Ceasars, godaddy.com, and Humanitarian) and due to shortages in other conferences thereâ€™s one overall at-large bid (New Orleans) after I take care of the major conference teams plus any backup tie-ins. Right now, Iâ€™m putting Toledo in the Little Ceasars due to a rumored need to sell tickets and Toledo is the closest team to Detroit. Iâ€™m then putting the champ in Mobile, followed by NIU to the Humanitarian. This leaves three teams for the one New Orleans slot, and of those three Iâ€™m picking Ohio. This means the only two eligible teams not in bowls this year, according to me, will be Temple and Western Michigan.
Okay, those were the easy ones. Letâ€™s talk about the Big Ten, SEC, and ACC, in that order.
The Big Ten is extremely likely to get two teams into the BCS. Of the three co-champions, Wisconsin will go to the Rose barring any poll shenanigans tomorrow. The Sugar will get the first two picks from the at-large pool regardless of how Auburn and Oregon finish as the Rose is expected to take TCU. This puts Ohio State into the Sugar for me, leaving Michigan State to lament its fate in the Capital One Bowl.
Following the top three, we have the remaining five eligible teams. Three of them were 4-4 in conference (Iowa, Illinois, and Penn State) while the other two were 3-5 (Michigan and Northwestern). A lot of signs have flipped recently, pointing Penn State towards the Outback bowl, where I originally had Iowa slotted. This gets us to the Big Ten #4/5 slot, occupied by the Insight and Gator Bowls. The Gator wanted to make a splash with Florida-Penn State in its first year of its Big Ten-SEC matchup, but it looks like the Outback will steal that. Fair or not, I think theyâ€™ll reach for the Michigan â€œnameâ€, sending Iowa to the desert. The Texas Bowl is then left to contemplate Illinois and Northwestern, with the TicketCity picking after. Despite losing at Fresno Friday night, Iâ€™m still putting Illinois in Houston, leaving Northwestern for the TicketCity.
It starts easy. Auburn in the title game, Arkansas to the Sugar, Alabama in the Capital One, and LSU in the Cotton. Things start to get screwy in the Outback. I originally had South Carolina slotted there, but the Internet has exploded with rumors that the Outback execs want to matchup Florida with Penn State. Iâ€™ve bowed to this pressure, leaving the Chick-fil-a with a tough choice. Iâ€™m not aware of any SEC rules that say the championship game loser must go to a certain level of bowl, but the conventional wisdom says South Carolina will go there. Personally, I donâ€™t like it because itâ€™s in the same building where they just got demolished by Auburn, and Iâ€™ve had Mississippi State pegged to this game for awhile because they had a good year and a bright future with a pretty energized fanbase (that also hasnâ€™t been since 1999). Iâ€™m overriding my gut on this one and putting South Carolina here, though.
The Chick-fil-aâ€™s pick also affects the Gator and Music City Bowls. If the Chick-fil-a takes South Carolina, then the Gator will take Tennessee and the Music City will take Mississippi State. If the Chick-fil-a takes Mississippi State, then the Gator would probably take South Carolina, putting the Vols in the Music City. Regardless of any of the above, I have Georgia in the Liberty and Kentucky in the BBVA Compass.
My teamsâ€™s conference is also the most complicated. I canâ€™t find anything concrete on which way any of the ACC bowls are leaning other than the Chick-fil-a, which said itâ€™d take the title game loser, so thatâ€™s where Florida State is going. As I lamented Friday, I have no idea what is happening with anyone else. At this point Iâ€™m just sticking to my guns. Iâ€™m putting NC State in the Champs Sports and thinking the Sun will stick with its original idea, Miami, since they will probably get Notre Dame. The Car Care is finally tired of UNC it seems, so Iâ€™m slotting Clemson into there. This leads us to the Music City. This is sort of the most desired bowl for Georgia Tech fans at the current moment, so most of the message board rumors Iâ€™ve seen focus on this. I still donâ€™t really think itâ€™s going to happen, so Iâ€™m putting North Carolina there, putting us in the Independence. The Military will be overjoyed that Maryland is still available through all that (and really, the Terps are the wild card here, but they had abysmal attendance (around 30,000 a game) at home this year so thatâ€™s not helping them), once again exiling Boston College out to San Francisco. Note that if the Champs or Sun gets frisky and takes the Terps or Canes before I project that really jumbles things up.
Thatâ€™s all I have for now. Note at the top I linked to the final set of predictions, any changes and awarding of asterisks will happen on the main page that will be updated throughout the day as I hear more confirmations. And, of course, the ESPN bowl coverage kicks off at 8:15 Eastern tomorrow night, starting with the BCS bowls for 45 minutes and then the overall bowl selection show. Many major conferences will embargo their bowl announcements until then, so we may not hear anything other than the MAC and Sun Belt announcements until then.