Bowl Predictions 2011: Week 3

Let’s get the link out of the way.

I feel like I’m close to really being able to do an in-depth analysis, though I think we won’t really be able to have a real idea of what things will look like until Oregon and Stanford play. While this weekend’s Alabama-LSU tilt is huge for the national title game, the loser will likely still get into a BCS bowl as long as they don’t lose again. I think Oregon will beat Stanford, which leaves me in a bad position because I also think Oklahoma will beat Oklahoma State. For the sake of clarity right now, I’m not going with the latter prediction to avoid a big mess, pretty much.

Elsewhere in the BCS, I’m not really sure to do after I slot the Alabama-LSU loser into the Sugar Bowl. I have Wisconsin, Oregon, Clemson, and West Virginia as conference champs, and Boise should qualify for an at-large. So that leaves us with two more at-large slots. I went with Stanford and Oklahoma. I couldn’t figure out any other better 1-loss team to put into the BCS, pretty much. Even a 1-loss Stanford feels like a reach to me, but Andrew Luck alone may get them into the BCS, in the sense that NFL fans my flock to see the future #1 draft pick.

Quick conference breakdowns:

  • ACC: As ecstatic as I was about our victory Saturday, I’m not sure how much it will help our bowl positioning unless we can beat either Virginia Tech or Georgia. I also ended up in the awkward positioning of sending Miami back to the Sun Bowl, which I kind of doubt will happen again. I have Clemson losing again, but to South Carolina.
  • Big 12: I still think that Bedlam will probably only act as a NCG stepping stone for Oklahoma State, provided they don’t lose beforehand. I don’t have Mizzou or Texas Tech getting eligible, even with the former delivering a surprise upset this week, and with the latter’s surprise upset being a good reason why they might not make 6-6.
  • Big East: I… guess West Virginia’s going to win this conference? Who the heck knows. 
  • Big Ten: Michigan suddenly sits pretty at the top of the Big Ten heap, with Michigan State unable to follow up on their Wisconsin win. Wisconsin also suffered a surprising loss to Ohio State, but I still have them winning the Leaders division because Penn State can’t really be for real, can they?
  • Pac-12: I still have Oregon beating Stanford. Meanwhile, I think Utah will rally over the back half of their schedule because now they get to play the Colorados and UCLAs of the world. They may even get to 8-4. Either way, with USC not eligible and Cal barely getting in at 6-6, the Pac-12 will come nowhere close to fulfilling its obligations.
  • SEC: The SEC elite this year (Alabama and LSU) will almost certainly make BCS bowls as long as neither loses more than once. Unlike in past years, though, the depth of the conference is not that great. Ole Miss and Kentucky are just outright terrible. I have Miss State and Tennessee limping at 6-6. I also have Vandy going 6-6 but for them that’s a pretty good year. The East is down to Georgia and South Carolina, and I think the latter could still lose again in SEC play. I swapped South Carolina and Arkansas in their bowl slots because I had Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl and they already played Arkansas this year – in Dallas, no less. (The Cotton prefers teams from the SEC West, but Auburn may be the only other team in the division that has a winning record.) 
  • Independents: I have the Champs Sports Bowl exercising its Notre Dame pick this year, otherwise the Domers will probably fall back to the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City. BYU is already eligible and has an agreement with the Armed Forces Bowl. I don’t think either of the academies will qualify this year. Navy already has 6 losses and according to some sites I’ve seen this already discounts them because the Army game is too late on the calendar. And I’m not sure where they Army team is going to get 3 wins from.
  • Mid-majors: The Sun Belt and MAC benefit hugely once again from Big 6 conferences unable to use all their bids. I have 4 eligible Sun Belt teams, including Western Kentucky making its first ever bowl game. The WAC will probably only have 3 eligible teams, one of them being Hawaii. The MAC should produce 6 eligible teams, providing plenty of backup. Hard part is that many of the bowls missing teams are out west, which makes it difficult to say “oh yeah, that’s close, maybe they’ll go there”. Boise will make the BCS provided they don’t lose at some point, and the rest of the Mountain West should fulfill its obligations as teams like Air Force and San Diego State should get their seasons together. And finally, the C-USA title game may be pretty good this year, as Southern Miss is on a collision course for only 1 loss going into the game with Houston. Case Keenum may still be too much for the Golden Eagles, though. Houston almost certainly can’t get into the BCS (due to their schedule) but the C-USA has a good chance of holding onto the Liberty Bowl title, I should think.

All right, that’s that. Hopefully I’ll have more thorough breakdowns next week. Until then.