Bowl Predictions 2016: Week 7

First, a link.

And now, business. First off, many of these predictions are not as accurate as I’d like for the week after Thanksgiving. While all the controversy is closer to the top of the College Football Playoff rankings, the real uncertainty is due to two teams: Western Michigan and Navy.

Western Michigan, as you may know, are currently undefeated heading into their MAC title game tilt with Ohio Friday night. Navy will play in the AAC title game against Temple on Saturday. CMU is currently ranked 17th, while Navy is ranked 19th. The Playoff rankings are relatively opaque, which is sometimes a good thing (they seem more willing to move teams around based on new data, unlike the traditional polls), but also a bad thing because it makes it harder for us to predict. (And, frankly, we should know what their criteria are instead of having to guess at it.) I don’t think it’s especially likely that a 2-loss Navy would jump an undefeated Western Michigan, but the point is no one knows for sure. The result, currently, is chaos. The worst-case scenario is that the Committee decides that they need more data, thus meaning we all have to wait for Navy to play Army next weekend. In essence, it’s entirely possible that almost every MAC, AAC, or bowl with at-large slots will be unable to fill its spots until December 11th, possibly affecting the bowls that kick off the following Saturday.

In other words, there’s probably a lot of bowl officials going “I love our country, but… it’d really work out out if Navy lost on Saturday” right now. 

Elsewhere:

  • I just re-shuffled some of the Sun Belt bids, so the these predictions are fresh as of about 10 minutes ago.
  • Fun times in the ACC bowl hierarchy, where some unexpectedly 6-6 teams and a Louisville loss to Kentucky have shuffled things up. Let’s just go down the list:
    • Clemson’s in the playoff if they beat Virginia Tech, nothing’s changed there. They’ll be either a 2 or 3 seed if they’re in, I think.
    • Me, and just about everyone else, is now putting Florida State in the Orange Bowl over Louisville. Look, I don’t agree with it, but maybe the Cardinals just should’ve taken care of business at home.
    • Since four Big Ten teams are going to get into the CFP-controlled bowls, one of them is going to be in the Orange Bowl. And if one of them is in the Orange Bowl, then an ACC team gets in the Citrus Bowl. So that’s where Louisville will wind up if they miss out on the Orange Bowl.
    • The Russell Athletic Bowl gets the first ACC selection after that mess, and I think they’ll take the top team on the board, Virginia Tech.
    • Next up is the ACC mid-tier consisting of the Taxslayer Bowl (probably no Music City this year), Belk Bowl, Sun Bowl, and Pinstripe Bowl. Right now, I’m going with the obvious geographic fits for the Pinstripe (Pittsburgh), Belk (North Carolina) and Taxslayer (Miami). So that leaves the Sun to pick from 8-4 Georgia Tech and the ACC’s three 6-6 teams. I’m going with the Jackets for that one. About the only thing that I think could change is Tech to the Taxslayer and Miami to the Sun, but that’s about it.
  • As with last year, it’s basically impossible to predict where the 5-7 teams will end up. We can, however, pretty safely say a bowl eligible 6-7 Hawaii will end up at the Hawaii Bowl, but it’s not official yet. Here are your potential APR 5-7 teams, in priority order:
    • North Texas
    • Texas/Mississippi State
    • Northern Illinois

That’s about it for now. Stay tuned Saturday night, when the last predictions will go up before we transition to game previews. (Hopefully.)

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