Bowl Predictions 2021: Week 4

First off, the latest predictions are here. I would consider this week a bit of a “living document”, as if I can scrape together any news before this weekend abut anyone going anywhere I will try to include. This is significantly harder than it used to be, though, as I discuss below.

It turns out a bunch of stuff happened this weekend, and one of those things, to my surprise, was that we got over the 82-team bar that we needed to have enough bowl eligible teams. In fact, there’s 83!

So with that settled, there are also three teams that have accepted invites. My process this year, as detailed previously, is different in the past. One of things I have tried to do ensure that I have captured the agreements the conferences have with bowls as closely as possible. A typical agreement these days, especially for Group of Five conferences, is that they will have 2-4 “permanent” bowl affiliations and some number of teams they’ll provide to ESPN Events (which, again, owns about half of the bowl games). This number is anywhere from 1 to 5.

After I allocated those slots, I was left with 6 teams that did not have a bowl game, with 5 slots to fill. In the real bowl games, there can be some shuffling within the ESPN Events group of bowls and this is nearly impossible to predict. For instance, currently BYU is slotted to the Independence Bowl. However, it’s entirely possible that to create a more attractive matchup, they could be moved to some other ESPN Events bowl. While UTSA isn’t exactly chopped liver, it’s likely that BYU and ESPN would want a matchup more appropriate for a team that has gone 5-0 against the Pac-12 this year. (In some ways, where they really should be is in Vegas this weekend to play, say, Oregon for the Pac-12 title, but still.)