FanPost

Projecting All 35 Bowl Matchups

This post has been promoted to the front page for being awesome.

Note: There have been some edits since the initial posting, as I didn't know the ACC was the back-up for the bowl in San Francisco. That sort of threw some picks into chaos.

Yes, my real name is Erik - like the Viking, but I'm not 'red.' Anyways, I spent a solid 5 hours trying to put together bowl projections, and let me tell you: it's a motherf*cker. I'm now convinced that most 'bowl projection' people have no idea what they're doing, because you pretty much have to simulate out all the games to get an idea of how things might fall. For example, some have realized that the Pac-10 is not going to be able to fill its Las Vegas slot, but how many realize how close the Pac-10 is to not filling its Sun Bowl obligations? Granted, in my simulation, I have UCLA *just* squeaking into that slot, but it's UCLA - nobody really knows how they're going to finish down the stretch, and Washington, Oregon State, and ASU more than likely won't be getting it done. Southern Cal has really screwed their conference more than most realize. Not only are the Trojans not allowed to go bowling, but their wins are going to likely keep 1 or 2 Pac-10 brethren from going bowling also. Picking for the bottom bowls is going to get really messy, and I try to simulate what I think could be a realistic scenario for panicking bowl organizers.

Note that for my projections I have South Carolina topping Auburn in the SEC Championship (partly a homer prediction, partly a realization that Auburn is playing poorly lately and the Gamecocks only lost to them by 8 at Auburn) and Oklahoma State topping Nebraska in the Big XII Championship (after the Texas game, methinks the Huskers aren't so hot at the 'revenge/farewell' tour gig). Also, I still call all the bowls by either their old names or their initial bid names - I'm not a fan of corporate sponsorship. So, if you get confused, sorry, but true college fans should follow this path as well. In what's supposed to be an 'amateur' sport, we shouldn't glorify the influx of money that has destroyed and distorted the game's ability to be balanced and fair. That being said, here's 70 teams (just barely) in 35 bowls. Enjoy.

BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
BCS vs. BCS
Oregon vs. Boise State
Comment: With Auburn going down in the SEC Championship, it'll be Oregon vs. either Boise State or TCU. I think Boise State will pas the Frogs in the computers, and thus the BCS, to play the Ducks for all the marbles. I used to think Oregon had a shot at losing down the stretch, but they should dispatch Arizona (their only remaining threat) this weekend.

SUGAR BOWL
BCS vs. BCS
South Carolina vs. TCU
Comment: i'm not going against Spurrier in the SEC Championship - especially since I expect the drama at Auburn to continue and kill the Tigers' season. No way does Auburn win both games against Alabama and Carolina, and I think they lose to the Gamecocks regardless of the Iron Bowl outcome. USC only lost to Auburn by 8 *at* Auburn, and Lattimore will cement his legacy as an SEC icon by game's end. That being said, Carolina travels well, so the Sugar Bowl will actually be happy with this selection over a potentially disappointed Auburn fanbase. The temptation to take Ohio State over TCU will be strong (setting up a classic SEC vs. Big Ten match-up), but TCU's unblemished record, strong SWC roots, and close proximity will ultimately bring the Frogs to New Orleans.

ORANGE BOWL
BCS vs. BCS
Virginia Tech vs. LSU
Comment: What a disaster it'll be for the Orange if this isn't Virginia Tech. If the Hokies don't get here, they better hope for some home cookin' from Miami, because a lot of ACC schools don't travel well. That being said, I think Tech rolls its way here in style, and the Orange will have to pick between Ohio State and LSU. Maybe it's a slight SEC bias from my point of view, but I think the Orange will want the Tigers. Ohio State's recent BCS performances have been underwelming (to say the least), and LSU travels just as well (if not better) than the Buckeyes, and ACC vs. SEC is probably more appetizing. Don't rule out Nebraska in this spot either (the Orange *loves* Nebraska), but at 2 losses, it'd be hard to justify the Huskers over the higher-ranked Tigers and/or Buckeyes.

FIESTA BOWL
BCS vs. BCS

Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia
Comment: I think Nebraska and Oklahoma State are going to be basically interchangeable. The winner of the Big XII Championship goes here, and the loser is 99% likely to be going to the Cotton Bowl (who almost always takes the title game loser or the South runner-up). West Virginia probably prevails in the Big East, but I'm not ruling out Syracuse either (who owns a tiebreaker over the Mountaineers). Most likely, however, there will be a 3-way tie between Pitt, WVU, and Syracuse at the top, and West Virginia will be the highest ranked BCS team at 9-3.

ROSE BOWL
BCS vs. BCS

Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Comment: This is probably the easiest BCS game to forecast. Oregon's almost assuredly going to the NCG, so Stanford will be the Pac-10 rep. here. Though the Big Ten will have a 3-way tie, Wisconsin will most likely finish as the highest-ranked Big Ten team.

SAN FRANCISCO BOWL
Pac-10 No. 6 vs. WAC

Louisville Georgia Tech* vs. Fresno State
Comment: Originally, I thought Fresno State might go to the New Mexico Bowl again, but then I realized it's more logical for them to go to San Francisco, and this bowl has a better payout. That's probably what happens (and now I have to re-do my New Mexico pick). For a Pac-10 replacement, Louisville should be a tasty snack for bowl organizers, as they're a pretty decent team, and virutally no replacement is going to travel well to the Bay Area. It wasn't that long ago that Louisville was #6 and in the BCS, Edit: I've been informed that the ACC is the back-up if the WAC or ACC can't fulfill their obligations. That means Georgia Tech lands here, where they can battle another red team called the Bulldogs.

BIRMINGHAM BOWL
SEC No. 8/9 vs. Big East No. 5
Kentucky vs. South Florida
Comment: Kentucky would rather be in Memphis or Nashville, but those cities would rather have Tennessee and Georgia, so Joker Phillips breaks his bowl cherry (as a head coach) in "rustic" Legion Field. From the Big East, it'd be logical to pick Louisville over South Florida or Connecticut, but Birmingham officials think of their bowl as bigger than it is, which strangely enough, leads to a better game (a good thing) at the expense of ticket sales (a bad thing). Last year, they inexplicably took UConn over South Florida. This year, they'll inexplicably take South Florida over Louisville, much to the chagrin of St. Petersburg officials.

COTTON BOWL
Big XII No. 2 vs. SEC No. 3
Nebraska vs. Alabama
Comment: This will probably be some combination of Auburn/Bama vs. Nebraska/Oklahoma State. Unless of course the SEC doesn't get two BCS teams, which will throw the whole selection process into chaos (and destroy my projections).

MOBILE ALABAMA BOWL
MAC vs. Sun Belt
Temple vs. Troy Louisville
Comment: The Motor City Bowl gets the MAC's first pick and the Humanitarian Bowl gets the third, so this will put second-best Temple in Mobile. They'll be matched up against Troy, or possibly ULM. If Troy only finishes 6-6, the Warhawks are a tasty option given their victory over Troy in the regular season and tougher OOC schedule (Arkansas, LSU, Auburn vs. Oklahoma State & South Carolina). Edit: Though Mobile's supposed to take a Sun Belt team, with the Sun Belt shift to the St. Petersburg Bowl, there's no way they leave the Big East's Louisville on the table.

GATOR BOWL
Big Ten No. 4/5 vs. SEC No. 6
Penn State vs. Florida
Comment: Florida's woes this year could be a blessing for ticket sales in Jacksonville, as the Gators will be the SEC No. 6 selection if it gets two BCS teams (and I think it does). Even two SEC teams aren't BCS-bound, I still think the Gators go here. At that point, it'd be a toss between the Gators and Mississippi State, and Gator Bowl organizers aren't stupid - they'll take UF. Just look at the way they schemed in the Seminoles last year for Bobby Bowden's farewell. From the Big Ten, the Copper and Gator will both want Penn State over Iowa (no offense, Iowa), but the Nittany Lions will want the Gator.

CITRUS BOWL
SEC No. 2 vs. Big Ten No. 2
Auburn vs. Ohio State
Comment: This will be the match-up of two fanbases that will be deflated by not making a BCS bowl, but SEC vs. Big Ten is always a blast. Could this be the game that breaks the Buckeyes' bowl curse against the SEC? Quite possibly. I really don't think things will go well for Auburn down the stretch. It's just a hunch.

HALL OF FAME BOWL
Big Ten No. 3 vs. SEC No. 3/4
Michigan State vs. Arkansas
Comment: This should actually be a pretty tasty match-up in Tampa, though I expect the Spartans to win. MSU's a no-brainer, and I doubt bowl organizers wouldn't want the strongest SEC team possible to take on State. I'm glad I don't have to think about this one much.

DALLAS FOOTBALL CLASSIC
Big XII No. 8 vs. Big Ten No. 7
Texas Tech vs. Illinois
Comment: Don't be surprised if Baylor and Texas Tech swap places (bringing the Bears to Dallas). It really depends on what the Pinstripe Bowl does. If it gets the Big East team it wants (such as Syracuse, Pitt, or maybe even UConn), it won't mind taking Baylor. But if it gets stuck with a team like Louisville, you'd better believe they'll take Texas Tech's fanbase over Baylor's. Baylor's fans might be crazy-happy to go bowling, but there are far fewer of them than Tech fans. It may not matter though, as the Texas Bowl could take Baylor, and the Pinstripe would then have to take K-State, leaving Tech for Dallas. Illinois will almost assuredly be the pick from the Big Ten, as organizers won't be taking Northwestern over the Illini.

PEACH BOWL
ACC No. 2 vs. SEC No. 5

Florida State vs. Mississippi State
Comment: This is a pretty jacked-up match-up (No. 2 vs. No. 5?), but Atlanta got the shaft when the Gator Bowl came begging for SEC teams. Florida State will be the ACC's representative, and Mississippi State will get the call from the SEC. Organizers might want Florida if FSU's not here, but they definitely won't be making this a re-match, and I think the Seminoles *do* go here, so they'll be playing the Bulldogs.

LIBERTY BOWL
C-USA No. 1 vs. SEC No. 8/9

Central Florida vs. Georgia
Comment: Don't think for a second the Liberty Bowl is happy about getting the SEC No. 8/9. The guys in Memphis are pissed about the lack of respect, but the Gator really messed up the bowl order for the SEC. Despite Central Florida's stumble last week, they'll still make it here, especially with C-USA's wacky west likely sending a 6-6 SMU to be sacrificed in the conference title game. This will really depend on what the Music City Bowl does with the SEC's 7th pick, as there will likely be 3 6-6 SEC teams. Nashville will take the Volunteers if they get there (6-6 means beating Kentucky), so Memphis and Birmingham will be battling for who gets Georgia. Since they'll both want the Bulldogs, it'll be UGA's call, and Memphis is a blast, so I think Georgia lands here.

SUN BOWL
ACC No. 4 vs. Pac-10 No. 4
N.C. State vs. UCLA
Comment: The Pac-10 rep. will be UCLA, if anyone. The ACC rep. isn't so easy to predict. The options are Maryland, N.C. State, and UNC, and they all travel about equally. Thankfully for the bowl organizers, the locals really pack this bowl out, so they'll probably just want a good match. That being said, it's a toss-up as to whether they take N.C. State or Maryland. The group in Charlotte will really be rooting for the Sun to take Maryland so it can get N.C. State, but we'll see. I think the Sun takes the Wolfpack.

QUEEN CITY BOWL
ACC No. 5 vs. Big East No. 3
Maryland vs. Syracuse
Comment: Since the Tangerine in Orlando will pick Notre Dame over the Big East's No. 2, this pick is really going to be the second selection from the Big East. Pitt could finish strong, but I'm not betting on it, and the Syracuse fanbase has to be jacked to be going bowling. Organizers won't overlook that fact. The Orange are the pick here. Since the Sun will probably take N.C. State, I think the folks in Charlotte take a (likely) 8-4 Terrapin team over UNC Chapel Hill for the umpteenth time.

HOLIDAY BOWL
Pac-10 No.3 vs. Big XII No. 5
California vs. Texas A&M
Comment: Another match-up that got tainted by bowl jossling. In this case, it was the Insight and Alamo's eagerness to move up that is ruining what's usally a fantastic 2/3 match. Cal will be the best option for the Pac-10 here (the only other option will be UCLA with two Pac-10 teams in the BCS), and I think A&M will fall to the organizers here from the Big XII. This is a plus for the bowl, as the Aggie faithful are eager for a good bowl like this, and they should overpower a jekyl-and-hyde Bears squad.

MUSIC CITY BOWL
SEC No. 7 vs. ACC No. 6
Tennessee vs. North Carolina
Comment: Bowl organizers will be very happy if this winds up a possibility. There's only 8 gazillion Volunteer alumni in Nashville, and the Tar Heels have a long history with Tennessee (they played almost every year before 1961). This is perhaps the easiest bowl game to predict - assuming, of course, that Tennessee gets past Kentucky and Vanderbilt these final two weeks.

PINSTRIPE BOWL
Big XII No. 7 vs. Big East No. 4
Kansas State vs. Pittsburgh
Comment: Bowl organizers will have to be disappointed if Syracuse isn't here, but Pitt still being here is pretty appetizing. They may also take UConn due to its proximity, but the Panthers have the better traveling fanbase. With pretty poor Big XII options here, ticket sales from the Big East rep. will matter. It'll be Pittsburgh. From the Big XII, it'll be Kansas State. Though they'll finish stronger than Baylor, the Texas Bowl picks ahead of the Bronx, and they'll want the Bears. This leaves the Pinstripe having to take K-State, as they'll be two wins stronger than Texas Tech.

ARMED FORCES BOWL:
Army or MWC-CUSA vs. MWC/C-USA
Army vs. BYU
Comment: A lot of people don't realize how the tie-in for this bowl works. Army is *not* guaranteed to be here, it's only a provisional agreement based on Army having 6 wins before playing Navy (it does) *and* the MWC or C-USA can not provide an eligible team. That makes this one tricky, because both the MWC and C-USA will be about 1 selection short of fulfilling all their tie-ins. Thus, Army will be here, but whether they play the C-USA or MWC is a toss-up. However, it gets more complicated. If it's a MWC team, it'll be BYU, as BYU will be the MWC No. 4 bid (with TCU in the BCS) and this bowl is supposed to get the MWC's No. 4/5. However, C-USA is like the WAC, in that it doesn't really peg it's teams by rank (knowing that it has shitty traveling fanbases). So it could be almost anyone from C-USA. Were I not predicting SMU to wind up with a losing record (6-7), I'd think maybe they go here. It's a total toss-up. Ultimately, I think that it comes down to who bowl organizers want, and where BYU wants to go between Dallas, and Albuquerque. Say what you will about the Cougars, but they have a good following, and this bowl will want them. And they'll want this bowl, not New Mexico.

ALAMO BOWL
Pac-10 No. 2 vs. Big XII No. 3
Arizona vs. Oklahoma
Comment: Missouri will have a better record than Oklahoma, but only by a game, so San Antonio is free to take Oklahoma instead. They'll do exactly this, as the Sooners have a lot of alumni in Texas, they travel well, and the Stoops vs. Stoops match-up will be impossible to resist. Arizona is going here for the Pac-10 barring an unlikely catastrophe from Oregon or Stanford that costs the conference 2 BCS bids.

TEXAS BOWL
Big XII No. 6 vs. Big Ten No. 6
Baylor vs. Michigan
Comment: This is a dream match-up for the organizers. Michigan will fall to the Big Ten's 6th-seed, with travel-solid Iowa and Penn State finishing better and above them. The bowl will also be able to take a (likely) 7-5 Baylor team that's within a win of (likely) 8-4 Kansas State, and the proximity to Waco, the massive Houston-area Baylor fanbase, and the incredible excitement around the Bears' first bowl in 16 years makes them impossible not to pick.  This bowl could make a lot of money this year.

MILITARY BOWL
ACC No. 8 vs. C-USA No. 2-6
Boston College vs. East Carolina
Comment: Bowl organizers are probably hoping Ralph Friedgen's Terrapins choke their way into this bowl down the stretch, but I don't see that happening. As such, they'll probably get to pick between a (likely) 6-6 Georgia Tech or Boston College. Tech fans probably travel a little better, but asking them to go to a cold bowl game that's 10 hours away is probably a bit much. That's not such a leap for BC, who's a little closer and used to the cold. From C-USA, almost anything could happen (as I've mentioned above), but I'd hedge my bets on this being East Carolina. Side note: I hate that this is called the 'Military Bowl,' especially since it's sponsored by Northrup Grumman. But let's not do the political thing in the comments.

COPPER BOWL
Big XII No. 4 vs. Big Ten No. 4/5
Missouri vs. Iowa
Comment: I think the Gator will have a preference for Penn State, and the Nittany Lions probably prefer Jacksonville, so Iowa should come here from the Big Ten. From the Big XII, Missouri's the pick since the Alamo will take Oklahoma vs. Arizona over Missouri vs. Arizona 9 times out of 10. Nobody else will be within a win of the (likely) 10-2 Tigers, and this game should be a black-and-gold bonanza.

TANGERINE BOWL
Big East No. 2 / Notre Dame vs. ACC No. 3
Notre Dame vs. Miami (FL)
Comment: There might be a slight initial hesitation to take the Fighting Irish, but bowls always take them when they're available, and the possibility of Catholics vs. Convicts will be impossible to resist. I'm licking my chops just thinking about it. This game's a no-brainer.

INDEPENDENCE BOWL
ACC No. 7 vs. MWC No. 3
Clemson vs. Air Force
Comment: Clemson's an easy pick over Georgia Tech or Boston College from the ACC. I HATE Clemson, but they're the closest thing to an SEC team the ACC has: huge stadium, rabid fanbase, travels well, good football. Part of me thinks they'd get taken to play in Nashville, but Tennessee vs. North Carolina would be more tempting to the organizers there. Maybe if the Volunteers don't make it there, Clemson won't be here. From the MWC, Air Force will get the No. 3 slot with TCU in the BCS.

MOTOR CITY BOWL
Big Ten No. 8 vs. MAC No. 1
Northwestern vs. Northern Illinois
Comment: Detroit gets the first pick from the MAC this year, and they'll take it on Northern Illinois, who should roll to the MAC Championship. From the Big Ten, Northwestern will be the only team left, so this is fairly easy to predict. Don't be surprised if Temple or Ohio sneaks in from the MAC, however. If it's this match-up, expect the Huskies to be amped to take down their Illinois neighbor.

HAWAI'I BOWL
Hawai'i vs. C-USA No. 2-6
Hawai'i vs. Southern Miss
Comment: Hawai'i will be here, so that's an easy one. Part of me thinks East Carolina would rather be here than in DC (and, really, it's ECU's call as to where they want to go - they're easily the second-best C-USA team), but the Pirates have so many alumni in the DC area that they'll go there. That leaves Southern Miss, Tulsa, and UTEP. It'll be Southern Miss. They'll get the first invite based on their (likely) 9-3 record, and they won't turn it down. The only other option could be SMU and June Jones, but they're going to get screwed unless Tulsa or Houston can upset Southern Miss and bump SMU from the conference title game. In all likelihood, SMU will finish 6-6 and be bowl-ineligible at 6-7 after losing to UCF.

POINSETTIA BOWL
Navy vs. MWC No. 2
Navy vs. Utah
Comment: Navy will be here - that's set in stone. Whether they'll be playing San Diego State or Utah is a total toss-up (and likely the most fun game in this week's pick 'em), but recent play is favoring the Aztecs to finish ahead of the Utes. Bowl organizers would probably prefer a Utah victory, as having SDSU here might net them a sellout. Either way, this should be a really good game.

LAS VEGAS BOWL
MWC No. 1 vs. Pac-10 No. 5
San Diego State vs. Nevada*
Comment: This will be either SDSU or Utah versus...? It won't be a Pac-10 team, that's for sure. Some think an SEC team lands here, and that's a possibility if the conference doesn't get two teams in the BCS. Personally, I think the WAC will let Nevada go here, but only if Idaho reaches 7 wins (they need 7 since they play 13 games), and it's going to take some negotiating. If Idaho becomes bowl-eligible, the WAC can fulfill its obligations to the Humanitarian, New Mexico, San Francisco, but Las Vegas is really going to want someone like Nevada since it can't have a Pac-10 team. Look for the WAC to negotiate with San Francisco or New Mexico (or both!). The other option is Georgia Tech, who may wind up a tasty ACC leftover (assuming the Military Bowl does select Boston College as I've predicted). They'll travel pretty well (especially for a chance to see Vegas), and SDSU wouldn't mind the match-up against the history-rich Yellow Jackets. As the ACC's leftover, Tech would also pick this game over others thanks to its higher payout.

ST. PETERSBURG BOWL
C-USA vs. Big East No. 6
Florida International*vs. Connecticut
Comment: I've convinced myself that the New Mexico Bowl will beg the St. Petersburg Bowl to take a Sun Belt team (Albuquerque will be short of MWC teams) so that it can take UTEP [see below] and the Florida bowl organizers don't have to worry about people traveling from the Mountain Time Zone. If the folks in Mobile and New Orleans play it smart, too, all 3 can have pretty good attendance turnouts, and the St. Petersburg Bowl could land ACC extra Georgia Tech. They could also try for Florida International (the Sun Belt has an agreement to serve as the primary back-up for this bowl), but I think Georgia Tech squeezes its way in. I'm not sure how that agreement efffects the bowl's ability to take Tech, but given that they could put in a C-USA team like UTEP here if they wanted to, I don't think it's a big deal. Big East No. 6 will really be Big East No. 5, and the bowl will desperately want this to be South Florida, but I think the Bulls get picked one spot ahead by Birmingham. Birmingham defies attendance expectations and usually just takes the best team (like last year with UConn), so look for them to pass on the more geographically-logical Louisville. That puts Connecticut here, which won't be too bad - people from the northeast love Florida and might travel well for this. Edit: I now think St. Petersburg will ask the New Orleans Bowl to let it have Florida International, who wouldn't travel well to New Orleans anyway. The Sun Belt is the primary back-up here, after all, and moving Louisville out of San Francisco and Georgia Tech in means I can't have Big East vs. Big East here.

NEW ORLEANS BOWL
C-USA vs. Sun Belt
Tulsa vs. Florida International Troy
Comment: Florida International lands here as the Sun Belt champion, though The bowl could want Troy instead due to its proximity to New Orleans. This bowl is supposed to take the Sun Belt champion, but the past few years it's had agreements with Mobile that don't always make that the case. From the C-USA, I think this one goes to Tulsa, unless Southern Miss passes on Hawai'i. Edit: With Florida International moved to the St. Petersburg Bowl, the New Orleans Bowl will want Troy or ULM. It's 50/50 as to which one it takes, in my opinion, but I'll give the nod to Troy for now since it will (likely) have the better record, even though it lost the head-to-head. It's also possible that the New Orleans Bowl opts for Louisville instead, and lets Mobile have Troy. Louisville as a free team on the board is a total game-changer.

HUMANITARIAN BOWL
WAC vs. MAC No. 3
Idaho vs. Ohio
Comment: They'll hate playing on the blue turf, but Idaho will be happy to go bowling. The Humanitarian Bowl will be happy to have them, too. Call me crazy, but I think the Vandals make a run down the stretch to finish 7-6, including an upset over Fresno State in the Valley. Also, if there's a shortage of 70 teams, and this could easily happen, a 6-7 Idaho and 6-7 SMU are probably at the top of the list for bowl candidates. That being said, a 6-7 Idaho is the logical choice as well. From the MAC, it'll probably be Ohio, who's played strong for Frank Solich down the stretch, or possibly Temple. The Owls and Bobcats have yet to meet, so look for the loser of that one to land here (I'm predicting Temple wins in Philly).

NEW MEXICO BOWL:
WAC vs. MWC No. 4/5
Toledo* vs. UTEP*
Comment: Yikes. This bowl is going to be put in a very painful situation. I think the WAC weasels Nevada into the Las Vegas Bowl, which will leave it a spot short for its bowl tie-in obligations. This will be that bowl. With TCU in the BCS, the MWC will also be one team short of fulfilling its obligations, and BYU will get to pick between here and Dallas (the Armed Forces Bowl is on SMU's campus this year as TCU's stadium undergoes renovations). They won't pick here. Army's only supposed to go to the Armed Forces Bowl if C-USA and the MWC are a team short, and they're both short, so they're in there as well. The Armed Forces Bowl will then pick BYU over any C-USA possibilities, which puts C-USA in a weird spot as to what to do with its St. Petersburg obligation (having no teams near it as ECU picks DC and Southern Miss heads to Hawai'i). All of this means a Sun Belt team most likely lands here, but I wouldn't rule out the bowl's organizers trying to negotiate with a C-USA tie-in to land UTEP instead (thus letting a closer Sun Belt team travel in UTEP's place to a C-USA tie-in). In fact, I think I just convinced myself that's what will happen. Print it. Look for the St. Petersburg Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl to get really friendly. But what about the other obligation? Oi vey. The only teams (likely) to be left will be Toledo, Miami of Ohio, Western Michigan, and Louisiana-Monroe, as I've predicted 73 teams will be bowl-eligible based on my projection of the season's final 3 weeks. That puts Toledo here. But, if bowl organizers can land UTEP, all will not be lost. Hell, the alternative is Toledo maybe wandering off to some other bowl as the WAC can't get Nevada into Vegas, and the New Mexico Bowl landing Fresno State again versus, in all likelihood, a Sun Belt team or... you guessed it, Toledo I think bowl organizers would be much happier to see fans make the drive up from El Paso.

Though some of the bowl reorganization I've described here may not be likely, it's logical. The top bowls are really going to put some of the lower bowls in a bind, and nearly everyone of them has a geographical excuse to break their arranged agreement and negotiate a better match-up of similar-level teams with other bowls. It'll happen.

Edit: Louisville on the board is a total game-changer. Nobody would have predicted the Big East would/could have 6 bowl-eligible teams *and* Notre Dame be bowl-eligible, so I think Louisville will land somewhere odd and change the map. If it's Vegas (i.e. the WAC couldn't get Nevada in), it shifts the board around a little, obviously.

Then again, I think South Carolina will beat Auburn, so maybe what do I know? Thanks for reading.

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