Bowl Predictions 2011: Week 7

Almost everything went as expected this last weekend, which means while there were a few changes in the predictions there wasn’t a major upheaval like there was last weekend. Let’s start with the BCS this time.

Note that most bids will be announced very closely after Saturday’s games. The last major hurdle is the final BCS standings, everyone should know where they’re going for the holidays by the end of the day Sunday. And, as per usual, the predictions are available here.

I’m left with no other choice but to call LSU-Alabama. The only way I could see a change is a major uprising by poll voters to put Oklahoma State ahead of Alabama with a victory over Oklahoma on Saturday. In the other games, the major change is Michigan appearing in the Sugar Bowl. Wolverine fans should be pretty jazzed about beating Ohio State, but there is a slight problem: they are currently 16th in the BCS. However, Georgia and the loser of the Big Ten title game should fall behind them, allowing them to rise up to 14th by next weekend. If Michigan doesn’t make it, then the Sugar may take Kansas State. Otherwise, there’s nothing shocking about the rest of the BCS bowls.

The winner of the ACC title game will go to the Orange Bowl. Virginia Tech has a very outside shot at a BCS at-large even if they lose. With Clemson now having lost 2 of their last 3 games (and the 3rd was a last-second field goal over Wake Forest), a loss in the ACC title game may push them out of the Chick-fil-a now. For that reason, I’ve put Florida State above them in the pecking order, putting FSU in Atlanta and Clemson in the Champs Sports. (Also, I have Auburn in the Chick-fil-a game and though I’ve seen some things to the contrary I really don’t think they want a rematch.) The Sun Bowl has said they will take Georgia Tech if available, so that’s pretty easy. (A GT win against Georgia was necessary to raise our draft stock any higher.) With NC State’s strong finish, they are a good candidate for the in-state Belk Bowl, which leaves Virginia for the Music City. This will stick the Independence Bowl with Wake Forest, relegating 3-5 North Carolina to the Military Bowl.

Big East
Who knows? I’m assuming West Virginia wins at this point and going from there. Oh, and ESPN’s Big East blogger raised the scenario that I fear most, which that the Liberty will have a say in the Big East bowl picture. For the sake of my sanity, I’m assuming the Liberty will stick with Southern Miss whether they win or lose to Houston. Oh, and yeah, Notre Dame is almost certainly going to the Champs Sports instead of a Big East team.

Big Ten
The winner of the Big Ten will go to the Rose Bowl, and the loser of the title game will likely go to the Capital One Bowl (especially if Michigan gets a BCS at-large bid). From there, I have Nebraska breaking into their newfound ability to go to the Outback Bowl and then, as the last team that isn’t 7-5 or 6-6, Penn State will probably end up in the Insight Bowl. (And frankly, the Insight Bowl may be the most anonymous bowl that features two BCS confernece teams, likely due to their previous TV contract with the NFL network. They could probably use the press.) I had to adjust my preliminary bowl predictions because the Gator said they really want to match Ohio State and Florida. (Remember folks, the bowl games exist mainly for themselves, not for you. The Gator is just the most brazen about it.)

Big 12
The Oklahoma-Oklahoma State winner will go to the Fiesta. If OSU loses they may still get a BCS bid (this depends on Michigan and Houston), however if the Sooners lose they are out of the BCS picture. I’m picking OSU to win that game, so I have K-State in the Cotton and Oklahoma in the Alamo. That leaves the rest of the conference picking up the scraps, with Texas at the top of the heap for the Insight, Baylor getting a nice trip to San Diego, TAMU getting a slightly less nicer trip to Houston. Oh, and Mizzou ends up in New York.

The Pac-12 is a mess with USC ineligible for a bowl game. Oregon and Stanford are probably both in, meanwhile UCLA (barring the biggest upset of the year) will probably be 6-7 and ineligible. While there were some reports they could get waiver, I haven’t seen this confirmed yet. (If they do, they will almost certainly be in the Fight Hunger Bowl.) So with the two best teams in the BCS, that leaves everyone else to fight over the Alamo Bowl bid. Arizona State looked to be that team, but their epic collapse is complete and their coach fired, so Washington gets the nod. The Holiday will probably then take that chance to grab Cal, and so I’m left with Utah and Arizona State for the Sun. I figure the former’s fans are going to feel a little better about themselves because I don’t think anyone had them getting a winning record in Pac-12 play this year, so I’ll put them into the sun and the Sun Devils in the Las Vegas Bowl.

The SEC will have two teams in the BCS. (If Georgia beats LSU and LSU falls to #2 and Bama rises to #1, they could even have three teams in the BCS, since UGA would get the Sugar auto-bid.) Since Tennessee lost to Kentucky, they will not have enough bowl eligible teams this year. For now, I have Arkansas going to the Capital One Bowl, which leaves the Cotton in a predicament of having to pick a SEC East team. I have them getting Georgia and leaving South Carolina to the Outback, though that could go either way. (Or Arkansas could fall past the Cap One, but I don’t know if they would really want UGA, and it’s not like Arkansas isn’t going to have other chances to go the Cotton Bowl.) This leaves Auburn as a good choice for the Chick-fil-a (since they’ll have equally attractive options on the ACC side to avoid the Auburn-Clemson rematch). I then have Vandy staying close by to go the Music City and Miss State going against Southern Miss in the Liberty.

The Rest
Some bids have come in already (indicated by the asterisks), but otherwise this is pretty unclear. The WAC has completely fooled me so far and it’s not clear what the Hawaii Bowl will do if Hawaii loses to BYU this weekend. (I.e., they may decide to not take Nevada.) There’s lots of guesses for C-USA and the at-large bids indicated by the question marks, but we will have enough teams. (I have 71 on this table, 72 if UCLA gets a waiver.)

Anyway, bowl bids will continue to trickle in throughout the week most likely, with a furious wave Saturday night and Sunday. What I usually do is make one last set of predictions Saturday evening and then watch the carnage unfold. A final post like this will probably go up really early on Sunday (or Saturday night, depending on your perspective). So until then…