Early Bowl Projections
October 22, 2013
By Bruce Marshall
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NEW MEXICO: Southern Cal vs. Colorado State...The final confirmation of what Lane Kiffin (and NCAA penalties) have wrought at SC. Ed Orgeron likely gets to the postseason, but because of the extra game at Hawaii, the Trojans need to go at least 3-3 the rest of the way to get to 7 wins and go bowling.
LAS VEGAS: San Diego State vs. Arizona...Last week's win over Utah was crucial for U of A to get to the six it needs for bowl eligibility. With so many teams falling apart in the Mountain West, SDSU should manage the required six wins for postseason, too.
IDAHO POTATO: San Jose State vs. Ball State...Remember, Ron Caragher's SJSU needs to get to 7 wins for bowl consideration because of the Spartans' 13-game, at-Hawaii-influenced slate. Meanwhile, Pete Lembo's Cards could have been in BCS Buster discussions had they not lost at North Texas in September.
NEW ORLEANS: Tulane vs. Louisiana...Why not make this a neighborhood affair? The Ragin' Cajuns have sold lots of tickets to this game at the not-far-away Superdome the past two years, and maybe Tulane fans will finally show up for a game in their own home stadium, Green Wave one win from first bowl eligibility since '03!
BEEF O'BRADY'S: North Texas vs. Bowling Green...Dan McCarney's UNT looks like the one Sun Belt refugee that will take advantage of C-USA's many minor bowl possibilities. We project the American will not be able to fill its allotted slot at the Trop; instead, the MAC can again provide relief, perhaps with Bowling Green.
HAWAII: Marshall vs. Utah State...The high-powered Herd is in position to get one of C-USA's most-desirable postseason slots. USU's win at New Mexico last Saturday suggests the Utags can do enough to become bowl eligible even minus injured QB Chuckie Keeton.
LITTLE CAESAR'S: Northwestern vs. Northern Illinois...A few weeks ago, the Cats were dreaming about the BCS; now, after three straight losses and looking at the remainder of the schedule, we're not even sure NU gets bowl eligible. As for unbeaten NIU, it is in position to make another BCS Buster bid, although we suspect the Huskies are behind Fresno State (for the moment) in that queue.
POINSETTIA: Notre Dame vs. Boise State...With Notre Dame likely to fall short of the BCS and looking for a mid-level bowl, the Poinsettia could be a nice alternative, especially since we don't think Army (which has a provisional invitation) gets the six wins needed to qualify. After three straight Las Vegas Bowls, we expect Boise would like a change of scenery in December.
MILITARY: East Carolina vs. Pitt...This bowl has appropriately been moved about 40 miles from RFK Stadium to Annapolis and Navy Marine-Corps Stadium for this season's game. ECU (C-USA) and Pitt (ACC) can fill the slots.
TEXAS: Iowa vs. Kansas State...We're betting that Bill Snyder can win 4 of his last 6 to get K-State bowl eligible and perhaps set up a nostalgic battle vs. his former employer Iowa, where Snyder was a key aide on Hayden Fry's circa 1980s staffs.
KRAFT: BYU vs. Washington...A few weeks ago, the Huskies were shooting much higher than a bowl game on the San Francisco Giants' baseball diamond. Three losses later and U-Dub is back in minor bowl territory. BYU has a contracted spot for this game.
PINSTRIPE: Louisville vs. TCU...While the American champ still gets a BCS invitation, bowl bids for the rest of the league really drop thereafter. And now we wonder if the 'Ville's loss to UCF might knock the Cards out of BCS at-large contention, too. As for TCU, it has to hustle to get to six wins and bowl eligibility.
BELK: Wake Forest vs. Rutgers...Just when we are about to write off Jim Grobe's career at Wake, the Deacs score back-to-back home upsets that suggest the old fox can get to six wins needed for a bowl. Rutgers should land safely on one of the American's slots.
RUSSELL ATHLETIC: Maryland vs. Cincinnati...The injury bug is starting to hit Maryland again, though five early-season wins should give the Terps enough cushion to qualify (barely) for a bowl. This Orlando date, one of the American's most-desired assignments after the BCS, would be a nice landing spot for Cincy.
BUFFALO WILD WINGS: Texas vs. Nebraska...Will Texas' bowl game be Mack Brown's swansong as the Longhorn coach? And will Nebraska's bowl be Bo Pelini's swansong as Cornhusker coach?
ARMED FORCES: Navy vs. Wyoming...It remains to be seen if last week's double-OT loss at Toledo will cost the Mids their provisional spot in Fort Worth, though six wins still looks doable. Wyoming is weakening but should be able to fill a MW bowl slot.
MUSIC CITY: Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech...Some regional sources believe new Vol HC Butch Jones might be doing the best coaching job in the SEC. As for Tech, it was dreaming about the BCS not long ago.
ALAMO: Arizona State vs. Texas Tech...ASU still remains very much in the frame for the Pac-12 South title. Expect the unbeaten Red Raiders to start backing up in the next few weeks as their backloaded schedule begins to wreak havoc in November.
HOLIDAY: UCLA vs. Oklahoma...UCLA's BCS hopes took a big jolt last week at Stanford; they could be harmed further this week at Oregon. The Bruins have surprisingly never played in this bowl. OU likely lands short of the BCS, too.
INDEPENDENCE: Florida vs. Duke...This would match two of Steve Spurrier's former employers (and a big letdown for Florida fans expecting more). The question now being asked in Gainesville is whether HC Will Muschamp might be in some trouble, especially with several tough dates still ahead.
SUN: Virginia Tech vs. Oregon State...These two both have longshot BCS chances but are more likely to end up in a place like El Paso on New Year's Eve.
LIBERTY: Houston vs. Georgia...Not only do Georgia's BCS hopes look dashed, so does Bulldog back-up option of one of Florida's New Year's games. UH is still in the American's title and BCS mix.
CHICK FIL-A: Clemson vs. Ole Miss...Clemson's BCS hopes took a big hit last week vs. Florida State; if the Tigers slip again they're probably out of the BCS completely. Ole Miss is alive again after last week's thrilling win over LSU.
GATOR: Michigan State vs. Texas A&M...Does anyone realize that Michigan State sits at 6-1 with an offense so conservative it could be coordinated by George Will? The Ags' and Johnny Football's BCS hopes took a big hit in last week's loss vs. Auburn.
DALLAS: Rice vs. Minnesota...Underrated Rice could be bowling for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, rumors continue to circulate that Jerry Kill might not return to coaching the Gophers.
CAPITAL ONE: Michigan vs. Auburn...Gus Malzahn's Auburn might be dreaming BCS after its upset of Texas A&M. We'll see how Michigan handles the backloaded portion of its schedule.
OUTBACK: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina...Keep a wary eye on SC, which might now be minus QB Connor Shaw (knee). Meanwhile, Wisconsin retains a real chance to get to 10 wins.
ROSE: Stanford vs. Ohio State...This would be a rematch of Jim Plunkett's finest Stanford hour and the 1971 Rose Bowl win vs. OSU.
FIESTA: Baylor vs. Fresno State...Baylor's slate gets tougher real soon, but the Bears look BCS-bound to us. So does unbeaten Fresno, which likely leads the BCS Buster queue at the moment.
SUGAR: Missouri vs. Miami-Florida...Unless the NCAA steps in and says otherwise, we don't think Miami is going to skip another postseason (especially a BCS chance) and self-impose any more sanctions. As for surprising Mizzou, it hasn't been to the Sugar since 1966, when it beat QB Steve Spurrier and Florida.
ORANGE: Florida State vs. UCF...If BCS rankings hold, FSU probably just misses the title game slot. UCF is now the team to beat in the American after its Louisville upset.
COTTON: Oklahoma State vs. LSU...LSU's BCS hopes are likely to be a victim of cannibalization within the SEC. Ok State might have to beat rival Oklahoma in its reg.-season finale to secure the desirable Cotton slot.
BBVA COMPASS: Vanderbilt vs. Utah...Since we're not sure the American can fill its slot in Birmingham, a spillover side like Utah from the Pac-12 might prove the opposition for Vandy, looking for its third straight bowl trip.
GODADDY.COM: Buffalo vs. Western Kentucky...As always in this bowl, the Danica Patrick commercials might prove more exciting than the MAC-Sun Belt matchup.
BCS TITLE GAME: Alabama vs. Oregon...It's one year overdue. Stay tuned.