Bowl Predictions, Week 7

This is the last week before the major conference bids are finalized, so I’ll walk through every conference picture like I did for Week 1. Look for a post later on Tech’s coaching changes and the ACC/Big Ten challenge, which got underway tonight.

So let’s do this.

There are two major scenarios for the BCS to worry about at this point: Missouri wins the Big 12 or Oklahoma wins the Big 12. Personally, I think the latter is actually slightly more likely but I went with the Tigers anyway. Recall the selection order this year (Orange, Fiesta, Sugar) and let’s get under way:

  • BCS Championship Game: Missouri vs. West Virginia: This is the simpler scenario. If Mizzou loses (or, less likely, WVU loses, or God forbid, both lose) then the Rose has to find a replacement for the Buckeyes. I honestly don’t know who that’d be unless Illinois sneaks into the top 14 this weekend.
  • Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Georgia: A rematch of last year’s Peach Bowl, but this is somewhat unavoidable. I like VPI to win their rematch against Boston College, but it doesn’t change that the ACC winner will go here. The Orange would love to have a SEC team as an at-large pick, and UGA will automatically qualify since they will finish in the top 4. (Bastards.)
  • Fiesta Bowl: Kansas vs. Arizona State: Kansas will probably rise again slightly, and luckily for them Texas lost last week or else they’d be a shoe-in for at-large selection. Provided Arizona State takes care of business this weekend, the Fiesta would love to have the Sun Devils here.
  • Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. Hawaii: LSU goes here provided they beat Tennessee, otherwise the Vols do. Hawaii goes here because they are unlikely to fall out of the top 12 now (being #12 this week), which means they automatically qualify. I doubt any of the BCS bowls want them, though, so the Sugar gets stuck with them since they pick last.
  • Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Southern Cal: Meanwhile, barring another upset this weekend, the Rose gets what it wanted all along.

The main question here is, if Virginia Tech loses to Boston College, will they still get an at-large berth? Probably not, unless there’s more upsets or other such shenanigans. And alas, poor Florida, which will probably be stuck on the outside looking in unless the Fiesta really wants them or something.

The first to bat for the ACC is the Peach. I like them to take the conference runner-up this year. According to their selection blog, BC, UVA, and VPI are their prime targets. Neither the Boston College or Virginia fan bases travel particularly well, and both will be coming off a loss. I still like the Eagles here, though.

Next up is the Gator. I like them to take Clemson’s energized fan base, coming off a big win over their in-state rival. Following the Gator is the Champs Sports, where Virginia makes a soft landing. These could easily end up the other way around.

Now we get to the ACC 5/6/7 cluster: the Music City, Car Care, and Emerald Bowls. All ACC fans know the first two are more desirable, seeing as how they’re played on this side of the country. There are essentially 3 teams competing for these spots: Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Wake Forest. The Car Care has made it known they prefer North Carolina teams, so Wake seems like a shoe-in even with their tiny fan base. Somewhere along the line (not sure where), it was decided FSU fans were suddenly awesome and traveled well and they seem to be the front runner for the Music City. This leaves Georgia Tech for the Emerald.

Or so you think! At least, according to the AJC, which claims that 6-6 Maryland could pass Tech and go to the Emerald. I claim that they are a) wrong, and b) very wrong, despite the quote from the Emerald Bowl guy, who must also be wrong. The NCAA Postseason Handbook makes one thing exceedingly clear. Here’s a quote:

Per NCAA Bylaw an institution with a record of six wins and six losses may be selected for participation in a bowl game if 1) the institution or its conference has a primary contractual affiliation, which existed prior to the first contest of the applicable season, with the sponsoring bowl organization. In the case of a conference contractual affiliation, all conference teams with winning records must be placed in one of the contracted bowl games before any institution with a record of six wins and six losses may be placed in a contracted bowl game.
In the case of a conference contractual affiliation, all conference teams with winning
records must be placed in one of the contracted bowl games before any institution with a record of six wins and six losses may be placed in a contracted bowl game. There shall be no contingency agreements with other sponsoring bowl organizations intended to enable an institution with a record of six wins and six losses to become eligible for those contests.

I have no idea how the Emerald could not be aware of this, since not only is a rule, they say it twice just to make sure. But then again, they think it’s a great idea to have a bowl game in a baseball stadium, so what do I know? (Hey, if 6-6 teams can be selected ahead of 7-5 teams, why can’t Alabama go to the Music City Bowl any more? This makes no freakin’ sense.)

Anyway, provided there is any sanity or fairness in this world, Maryland will head to Boise.

Big East:
This is easy. Provided West Virginia doesn’t screw up, they’re in the national title game. The Big East has no specific slot in the BCS so no bowl there gets to replace them.

Well, that part was, at least. Turns out the Gator and Sun Bowls have a confusing (and stupid) agreement to swap picks every once in awhile. Turns out, the Gator has to take 2 Big 12 teams over the next 3 years, so if they don’t do it this year they have to do it each of the next two. Apparently there is also a clause that enables the Gator to select before the Cotton if the Big 12 only qualifies one team for the Big 12, but I don’t think that’ll happen this year (though Kansas may get shafted if Oklahoma wins).

This wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but since Notre Dame is part of the Big East’s bowl package, the Gator probably doesn’t want to be guaranteed to lose on that for the next two years. So they’ll pick a Big 12 team, which I’ll get to in a minute. Meanwhile, the Sun gets the first Big East selection after the BCS, and I like a hot Cincinnati team to get the nod.

Next up is the Car Care Bowl, where I think South Florida will land, followed by the International Bowl. Connecticut is closest and hot, so I like them to go there, relegating Rutgers to the Bowl. There’s an outside shot Louisville make 6-6 if they beat Rutgers this weekend, but even if they do I don’t think it’s likely they get selected to anything.

Big Ten:
The Big Ten is completely done and had 10 of its 11 teams qualified for bowls. It’s mainly waiting to see if Illinois will make the BCS or not. Even if they do, I don’t think they’ll be selected unless Ohio State goes to the title game, sending the Illini to the Rose.

So anyway, first go after that is the Capital One Bowl, where Illinois will probably end up, as a sort of feel-good story. Also, I think Florida will end up there, which will be great for TV coverage (Zook Goes Against School that Spurned Him, etc.). After that, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Penn State will all be competing for the Outback, Alamo, and Champs Sports bowls. I like the schools to go in that order.

The last two Big Ten bowls are the Insight and Music City Bowls. Coming out of the 7-5 morass will probably be Indiana (feel-good story), and Michigan State (fans) in that order, leaving 7-5 Purdue in the cold, not to mention 6-6 Iowa and Northwestern.

Big 12:
Provided Missouri wins Saturday, they will go the BCS title game, which means the Fiesta has first shot of the remaining teams qualified for the BCS. I think they’ll take Kansas, so that’s the scenario I’ll use.

This sends Oklahoma to the Cotton and Texas to the Holiday, but the picture gets murkier after that as the Big 12 descends into a series of unexciting 7-5 and 6-6 teams. Sitting pretty is 8-4 Texas Tech, sending them to the Alamo. Since the Sun took a Big East team, the Gator gets the next pick and goes with Texas A&M in the hopes of getting Notre Dame in the next two years. Oklahoma State and Colorado are both 6-6 and fill out the Insight and Independence Bowls. This leaves the Texas Bowl to its own devices, which I’ll get to in a minute.

Conference USA:
This hasn’t been a great year for C-USA, which hasn’t looked so hot since they were raided by the Big East a couple years ago. Central Florida is its best team, and South Florida wiped the floor with them earlier this year. Anyway, UCF will probably win the title game against Tulsa and head to the Liberty Bowl.

It gets murkier after that, since minor bowls (more than anyone else) are apt to take geographically close teams in order to increase the chances of anyone actually attending the game. The GMAC will probably opt for the runner-up this year, though, which will be Central Florida. The Bowl and the New Orleans bowls have already announced they will take Southern Miss and Memphis. This leaves 7-5 East Carolina to head out to Hawaii. Also, the Texas Bowl has announced they’ll take hometown Houston.

Navy has already accepted a bid to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. (Try saying that three times fast.) Notre Dame, with a 3-9 record and the worst offense in college football, will not be attending a bowl this year, which saves them the trouble of going to some destination and losing for the 10th straight time.

The MAC has three bids, and to the relief of everyone running a bowl, will only have 3 teams with 7-5 records or better. I would imagine the Motor City would love to have the winner of the title game, which should probably be Central Michigan. This sends Miami (OH) to the GMAC Bowl and Ball State to the International.

Mountain West:
The Mountain West gets 4 bids, which I’m only partially sure of the order of. Provided I’m right, BYU has clinched the MWC title and will head to Las Vegas, Utah will head to the Poinsettia, and New Mexico will head to…New Mexico. Air Force has already accepted a bid to the Armed Forces Bowl.

Yes, I know there is a scenario that could occur were UCLA qualifies for the Rose Bowl, and I hope that it does not come to pass. Provided sanity prevails (knock on wood), USC and ASU should make BCS games to their logical destinations.

I am pretty sure that bowl officials have noticed that Oregon really, really, really sucks without Dennis Dixon, and this will hurt them quite severely come selection time. Provided Oregon State beats them (and since they got shut out by UCLA, I don’t see why they won’t), OSU will get the Holiday Bowl spot. Cal logically then goes to the Sun, provided they win the Big Game this weekend, which means Oregon crash lands into the Las Vegas Bowl and puts a (hopefully) 6-6 UCLA in the Emerald. This leaves the Pac-10 unable to fulfill its obligation to the Armed Forces Bowl.

Much like the Big Ten, the SEC qualifies 10 teams this year. Unlike the Big Ten, the SEC is assured of putting two teams in the BCS.

Florida will be an attractive selection for the Capital One, especially if it also gets Illinois. Now we hit the infamous SEC 3/4/5 cluster of the Peach, Outback, and Cotton Bowls. The latter two are supposed to get their picks of the SEC West and East first. So I see Tennessee landing in the Outback and Arkansas (yes, Arkansas) heading to the Cotton, which their fans will love (since it reminds them of the good ole SWC days). The Peach will be perfectly happy taking Auburn at this point.

This is followed by the Music City and Liberty Bowls. Since Kentucky went to the Music City last year, I see them going to the Liberty and therefore sending Mississippi State to Nashville. The Independence gets its pick of 6-6 teams: Alabama or South Carolina. I could see them going either way, but for now I’m putting ‘Bama.

Sun Belt:
Provided Troy takes care of business against Florida Atlantic, it will be the Sun Belt champion and thus earn a bid in the New Orleans Bowl. Fun fact about Troy: they have outscored their Sun Belt opponents by a combined 155 points.

Last, but not least, is the WAC. Hawaii will probably qualify for the BCS. Of the 3 WAC bowl berths, two of them exist pretty much to provide their top teams with a well-attended game: the Humanitarian Bowl and the Hawaii Bowl. Boise State will go to the former, but now the latter needs a team, and so does the New Mexico Bowl. I like Fresno State to go the former, and the winner of the Nevada-Louisiana Tech game to the latter.

At-large bids:
This all leaves two bowls without a team: the Texas and Armed Forces Bowl. TCU and Purdue should/will finish 7-5, and thus according to the NCAA Postseason Handbook must be picked before any available 6-6 teams. Since TCU is in the MWC, they won’t play Air Force again, and thus go to the Texas Bowl, sending Purdue to the Armed Forces.

And that’s all folks. Please forgive any spelling/grammar mistakes, as it’s late, but please feel free to pick apart my logic. Later!