What happened this past weekend? How about everything! Let’s examine the repercussions on the national bowl picture.
First, Louisiana-Lafayette accepted a bid to the New Orleans Bowl, which allows them to join the company of BYU and Navy as the first teams to lock down bids. We may see a few other bids trickle out over the course of the week, but with the new-found uncertainty in the bowl picture it is likely we will have to wait until the BCS bowls make their picks Saturday night and Sunday morning before we find out anything else.
As usual, the full set of predictions can be accessed here.
- The most notable thing now is Florida State and Ohio State at #1 and #2 and in the title. I project them both to defeat their foes in their conference title games.
- Putting this to rest now: the odds of a 1-loss SEC Champion jumping an undefeated Ohio State are pretty much nil. Do not let the talking heads confuse you this week.
- If Ohio State loses, well, then things get interesting. If Missouri beats Auburn, do they jump idle Alabama to the #2 slot? Okay, well, yes they do.
- If Florida State loses, well, I pretty much refuse to contemplate that. But that’s what you need for an Iron Bowl rematch. (Not that you really want it, Auburn fans: remember what happened the last time Alabama got to face a team twice?)
- Elsewhere, after years of getting shafted, I am sure the Orange Bowl is really looking forward to this. They will get the first pick of the at-large pool, and they will pick Alabama.
- The Rose gets the next pick. Tradition dictates that they will take Michigan State, but if for some reason the Orange doesn’t take Alabama I think the Rose will. Heck, I think there’s a shot at that anyway but I seem to be the only person who thinks so.
- Speaking of things that only I seem to think, I initially had Baylor in the Orange Bowl, figuring that Clemson played its way out of the game by losing to the two best teams on its schedule. According to the rest of the Internet, this isn’t the case – searching Google News for “orange bowl baylor” yields almost no relevant results. I’ll bow to the rest of the world and put Clemson there, I guess.
- Finally, if Northern Illinois does not lose the MAC title game, I have Central Florida facing Auburn in the Sugar Bowl and Northern Illinois facing Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Speaking of things that I’m wrong about according to the Internet, I cannot find any evidence this year that the agreements I thought the Sun Belt had with the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl, and the BBVA Compass Bowl remain in effect. This means that it is unlikely any Sun Belt team other than UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State will get a bowl bid.
With Fresno State now out of the BCS bowl picture, this means there are six teams for five spots. There is some talk of the conference trying to shop Boise State for an at-large bid, but I consider that unlikely. Therefore, the conference’s last spot in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will likely be a toss-up between Colorado State, UNLV, and Boise State. I sent UNLV to Hawaii because they haven’t been to a bowl in 13 years. I also saw while trawling for news that apparently the San Jose State AD used to work at Boise State and was integral to getting the original Humanitarian Bowl off the ground. Facts like that are why I look for news. As a result, I have the Rams getting left out.
The MAC will have at least three extra teams, four if Northern Illinois loses. The three teams most likely to go other than NIU are Bowling Green, Buffalo, and Ball State. This leaves Ohio, Toledo, and Central Michigan searching for bids.
The winner of Rice-Marshall will go to the Liberty Bowl, beyond that, it’s very difficult to make heads or tails of anything. For now, I have Florida Atlantic losing out in a bid.
Assuming Florida State and Clemson make it, here’s how the rest of the picture shakes out.
- Chick-fil-a Bowl: technically Duke, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Georgia Tech are eligible for this spot. However, I think the only real players here are Duke and Miami. If Duke is competitive in the ACC title game, they’re probably the pick here, but I think Florida State will wipe the floor with them. Despite the best season in school history, I think Duke will be passed over in favor of Miami.
- Russell Athletic Bowl: I think Duke will get picked up here. GT is not in the running and VPI played the worst game of the bowl season here last year. If Duke is picked by the CFA Bowl, then Miami is the pick here.
- Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech has a reputation of traveling well. Georgia Tech will not come here for a third year in a row. Duke will probably be picked by now, so that means all the 5-3 and 4-4 ACC schools are in the running.
- Belk Bowl: the Belk always prefers North Carolina teams. I would think they’d be okay with VPI too, but if VPI goes to the Sun then UNC is the pick here.
- Music City Bowl: for once, the online consensus seems to be that Georgia Tech will make this game. Other candidates are the ACC’s northern schools, with the strongest possibility being Boston College.
- Advocare V100 Bowl: with the last 5-3 team out of the way, that opens this game to any of the remaining eligible ACC teams, which at this point are Syracuse, Boston College, Maryland, and Pittsburgh. For now, I’ve slotted Pitt here, but the other candidate would probably be Boston College.
- Military Bowl: there’s a lot of chatter putting Maryland in this game, but considering that Maryland is leaving for the Big Ten after this year and are currently being sued by the conference Tobacco Road may attempt to pull some favors and put Syracuse or Boston College here instead.
So by my calculations, that leaves Syracuse and Boston College out. However, that’s not the end of the road for these two schools. We’ll get to that in a moment.
The AAC teams appear likely to go in order: Louisville to the Russell Athletic, Cincinnati to the Belk, Houston to the Pinstripe, and Rutgers to the Compass. Rutgers could also go to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl.
There is a potential windfall for the Big 12 only getting the conference champ into the BCS.
- Cotton Bowl: the Cotton could take Baylor or Texas. I think they’ll defer to all that burnt orange money and take the Longhorns. This could set up a potential match against Texas A&M, but most of the chatter I’ve seen puts LSU as the SEC opponent here.
- Alamo Bowl: this is where it gets exciting. I’ve put Baylor here to stage a track meet with Oregon, but this could easily be Texas or Oklahoma.
- Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: you know what would make this game truly wild? How about Oklahoma-Nebraska. The committee for this game has to be praying for this to happen. There’s a chance we get Texas or Baylor here instead.
- Holiday Bowl: after all that, Kansas State is a slam dunk choice over Texas Tech in the Big 12 pecking order.
- Texas Bowl: Texas Tech is the only team left.
The B1G was already going to be short of teams, so Michigan State going to Pasadena doesn’t really help that particular situation. We’ll just have to make do, I suppose.
- Capital One Bowl: if some how the title game loser does not stay in the BCS, they will take them. Otherwise, Wisconsin is almost certainly the pick ehre.
- Outback Bowl: this is where it gets a little more interesting, but the choices are probably Iowa or Nebraska. Considering the current issues up in Omaha, I’m going with Iowa.
- Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: besides, if Nebraska goes to Tampa, that ruins my dream matchup with Oklahoma in this game. Minnesota has an outside shot at this game.
- Gator Bowl: that said, Minnesota is still Minnesota, and they could well get screwed because Michigan is Michigan. That’s what I’m going with here.
- Texas Bowl: that puts the Gophers in the Texas Bowl.
The Pac-12 has too many teams for too few slots. This makes the picture at the bottom rather cludy, but I feel good about the picks at the top.
- Alamo Bowl: the Pac-12 title game loser is also in the running here, but I think Oregon will be hard to pass up.
- Holiday Bowl: that said, I don’t see the Pac-12 title game loser falling past here. Also in the running are UCLA and USC.
- Sun Bowl: after last year’s debacle, Southern Cal probably won’t be headed to El Paso again anytime soon. UCLA looks like a strong candidate here.
- Las Vegas Bowl: this is where it starts to get a little dicey, but Southern Cal would probably get taken if they’re available.
- Fight Hunger Bowl: most of the chatter online points to Washington going here.
- New Mexico Bowl: we’re left with Arizona, Oregon State and Washington State. With Wazzou on the up-and-up after several bad seasons, they seem like a trendy pick to go here. Arizona has played in this game recently and it’s been a bit of a lost season for the Beavers.
- Capital One Bowl: this game looks poised to take the loser of the SEC Championship game, so I’m putting Missouri here.
- Outback and Cotton Bowls: nominally, the Outback is supposed to take a team from the SEC East and the Cotton a team from the West. Many reports have suggested that if the Capital One does not take the SEC title game loser, they cannot fall past the Cotton Bowl. It looks like to me that South Carolina will be making a repeat trip to the Outback (I’m sure there’s some golf courses around Tampa Steve Spurrier hasn’t played yet) and LSU will head to the Cotton.
- Chick-fil-a Bowl: the Chick-fil-a will occasionally pick one of the local schools, but generally they prefer to fill hotel rooms with traveling fans. Also, they seem to be high on Johnny Maziel, so that shapes up with for Texas A&M if they are available.
- Gator Bowl: Georgia winds up in Jacksonville again, it would appear.
- Music City Bowl: the candidates here are Mississippi, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt. Of those three, the preference is probably for Ole Miss, despite the Egg Bowl loss last weekend.
- BBVA Compass and Liberty Bowls: Miss State is likely headed to the former and Vandy to the latter.
According to the above, the following bowls will lack teams: the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, the Poinsettia Bowl, the Advocare V100 Bowl, and the Heart of Dallas Bowl. I should note that I already slotted Notre Dame in the Pinstripe Bowl.
- Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl: the MAC has a secondary agreement with this bowl as well as the Poinsettia and Heart of Dallas bowls. However, there is at least one document that I’ve found that suggests only one of the MAC’s various secondary bowls needs to take a team, and after that nothing is guaranteed. I’m going to go ahead and slot Toledo here.
- Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl: this seems like a good landing spot for one of the ACC teams that needs a bid. The other possible landing spot for an ACC team would have to be the Heart of Dallas Bowl, so I’m going to with Syracuse here.
- Poinsettia Bowl: this west coast bowl could well take a west coast team. 7-5 Arizona seems like a strong candidate.
- Advocare V100 Bowl: an ACC team will be selected here, so that means they will likely be seeking another major conference team. I’m going to guess and put Oregon State here.
- Heart of Dallas Bowl: finally, we’re left with Boston College and several Sun Belt, MAC, and C-USA teams. Given most of what I’m reading online, this looks like a landing spot for a major conference team, meaning BC wins out.
Bids themselves should trickle out this week, especially for the Sun Belt and Mountain West. For everything else, I’ll do one last big update Saturday night.