There is no real way to say which teams will go where, at this point. While Utep has just one game left, and that is against Tulsa this Saturday, other teams have two or three games left. With that said let’s take a look, and if nothing else, perhaps we can at least clear some of the clutter off of the table.
There are 35 bowl games. That means 70 teams, or 58% of the 120 FBS teams, will play in bowl games.
To be bowl eligible a team must be 6-6, and in those 6 wins a team may have one win against an FCS school.
This is important. This year, the NCAA has approved an amendment that would allow a 6-6 team equal footing with a 6-6 team. Why, you ask? Well, so that an FBS conference team with a 6-6 record could leap-frog a 7-5 team from a non-aq team. Ah, those big boys don’t miss a chance to take care of themselves, do they? The amendment is pending approval as of now.
One more thing, a team can become bowl eligible by winning their conference championship.
Conference USA’s Championship is determined by the winner of the Championship game played between the two division champions. Here is the tie-breaker criteria from the C-USA site;
1. Highest regular season winning percentage based on overall Conference USA play.
2. If tied, head to head between tied teams.
3. If still tied, highest winning percentage within division play.
4. If still tied, compare records against divisional opponents in descending order of finish.
5. If still tied, compare records with common cross-divisional opponents.
6. If still tied, compare records with common cross-divisional opponents in descending order of finish.
7. If still tied, team with highest BCS ranking.
8. If still tied, the team that has not participated in the championship most recently.
9. If at any point the tie is broken in a multiple team tie, the remaining teams will begin the process again
begining at #2.
Now, let’s look at the bowl game tie-ins with C-USA. Conference USA has 6 spots in bowl games that are guaranteed, and is the primary back-up for another.
The Liberty Bowl has the top selection of C-USA teams. The opponent comes from the SEC, however, there is a chance that the Big East could participate in the game. The game will match the C-USA Champion against the SEC 6 or 7 or a Big East team if no SEC team. At this time, the SEC has 8 teams eligible and Georgia is 5-6 with one game to play against Georgia Tech. Scout.com has projected UCF versus GA. Of course, the C-USA Championship game will determine which team is the conference representative, and it is possible that a team from the Western Division could win and change that.
The St. Petersberg Bowl has the C-USA number two choice pitted against a Big East 5 choice team. As of today, SMU is 4-2 5-5, Tulsa is 4-2 7-3, and Houston is 4-3 5-5. Houston holds the tie-breaker edge over SMU. Games remaining of the schedule for those teams are as follows;
UTEP at Tulsa
Marshall at SMU
Houston at So. Miss.
SMU at ECU
So. Miss. at Tulsa
Houston at Texas Tech
The Armed Forces Bowl has C-USA number 3 versus MWC number 4, or Army if eligible before the Navy game and no MWC team. Army is bowl eligible. Probably So. Miss. versus Army.
The Military Bowl pits the number 4 C-USA team against number 8 ACC team. Looks like this one could be ECU versus any one of a number of teams. Keep in mind that this game is played in Washington D.C., and the geography could play a large role in this one. Scout.com has Maryland in this one, even though they would be much higher in the standings than eight.
The New Orleans Bowl has the C-USA number 5 choice versus the Sun Belt Champion. This one could be one of a number of teams from C-USA once the dust settles, and most likely pitted against FIU.
The Hawaii Bowl has the C-USA number 6 choice playing against the WAC, and you can pretty much bet that the Hawaii team will be in this one. I would think that they would love to get June Jones and SMU back in this one.
Now, there are some additional spots that could be available, and they are critical to UTEP’s chances, if UTEP doesn’t beat Tulsa.
The Dallas Football Classic is supposed to pit the Big 10 number 6 against the Big 12 number 7, but in the case of either of those two conferences not being able to send a team, C-USA is the conference back-up. The Big 10 already has 7 teams eligible, and the Big 12 has 7 teams eligible, with two others with 5 wins.
Then, there is the New Mexico Bowl. It matches up the MWC number 5 against a WAC team. The WAC has 4 bowl tie-ins and they only have 4 teams eligible. One of those four is Boise State, and they will be going to a BCS bowl game. The MWC has 4 teams eligible and BYU has 5 wins and play Utah on the 27th. But, TCU should also make a BCS bowl game, leaving them unable to fill their commitments.
Here are some of the projections I gathered from different sites;
USA Today’s Campus Rivalry UTEP v GA Tech Military Bowl
CBS UTEP v FIU New Orleans Bowl
ESPN UTEP v FIU New Orleans Bowl
Football-Bowl.com UTEP v Fresno State New Mexico Bowl
Greg Dooley Lists Bowl Projections and shows these;
CBS UTEP v Temple Pizza Bowl
ESPN UTEP v Troy New Orleans Bowl
ESPN UTEP v FIU New Orleans Bowl
There is as complete a run-down as I can give you. There will be changes as teams have football games yet to play. Also, I think it is very important to remember that ESPN is who airs most of these games, and they have a lot to say in who is matched up, as do the individual bowl commitees. Both of them are looking for the best match-ups to maximize their draws. Obviously, a win against Tulsa puts UTEP in the cat bird seat.