Yes, the first national bowl projections are out. One was released Wednesday in a bold move to sort out the college football expectations for all 70 bowl-eligible teams and where they will end up at the end of the season based on a few spring scrimmages and scraps of information gleaned from sports writers and coaches around the nation.
Jerry Palm has actually done a fairly good job evaluating the teams for an early season forecast, but a lot of it seems a rehash of the 2012-13 season. But understandably, he had to start somewhere and many of those teams are going to repeat last season's performances in 2013-14. Not surprisingly, all the usual suspects are there: Ohio State and ‘Bama will battle for the National Title; Florida State vs. Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl; Texas A&M and Clemson in the Sugar; the Longhorns vs. Louisville in the Fiesta; and the Rose pitting Nebraska against Stanford.
The Mountain West teams were not neglected in the predictions and six were projected in some interesting post-season scenarios:
Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Arizona State
New Mexico Bowl: Air Force vs. Utah
Hawaii Bowl: Utah State vs. Rice
Poinsettia Bowl: Fresno State vs. Arkansas State
Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Navy
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Nevada vs. Ohio
With Palm slotting the Broncos into the Vegas bowl he must be figuring that Boise State will take the Mountain West crown. Arizona State will have to end up 5th best in the PAC12, which won’t make them happy to see that prediction already. Looks like it would be a rematch of 2011.
Air Force barley made it to a bowl last year. They went into the Armed Forces Bowl where they were manhandled by Rice and finished the season 6-7. So they couldn’t complain too loud about a trip down to the New Mexico Bowl to take on old MWC rival Utah.
So that would set up San Diego to replace the Falcons in the Armed Forces Bowl this season. And why not? It would put them up against their old foe, Navy, and that would be fun for the Aztec fan base.
And leave the job of filling seats in Qualcomm Stadium up to Fresno State. That’s a bowl their fans could drive to---if they wanted to see the ‘Dogs taking on Arkansas State. Last year the ‘Dogs traveled out to the Islands to faced off with SMU. That 43-10 drubbing at the hands of the Mustangs injured a lot of pride but beating Arkansas State would not get it back.
And how much pride could Nevada generate pounding Ohio in Boise after playing Arizona in the New Mexico Bowl last year? The Pack suffered a 1-point loss, 49-48, in a great contest. The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl wouldn't have the prestige of New Mexico. But it is close enough for fans to drive to from Reno. It also has one other advantage: the Boise fans turn out petty well to support a rival team member. In 2012, Utah State was on the Blue Turf and 29,243 fans showed up. In 2011, they were cheered on in front of 28,076. Even rival Fresno State who played in the bowl in 2010 had a Boise crowd on hand of 25,449.
Sure, I know. The 2013 season is still months from getting under way and lots of water will go under the bridge between May and November and speculating on bowl games this early is almost ludicrous. But Palm’s early forecast is something to think about.