Let's get right down to the nitty-gritty of the situation.
After yesterday's games, there are now 70 bowl-eligible teams -- enough to fill all 70 available bowl spots. There are also now 42 teams that have reached seven losses (plus ineligible Penn State), which means they cannot become bowl eligible. This leaves just 12 teams whose fate has net yet been decided. Of those, two teams are 5-5 and need to split their final two games to become eligible. One is 4-6 and needs to win both of their final two games. Eight teams are 5-6 and must win their final game. Finally, one team (Colorado State) is 6-6 but still has one game left, which it must win.
(Colorado State played at Hawaii this year, and teams who play at Hawaii are permitted a 13th game to offset travel costs. Teams such as this must finish 7-6 to be bowl-eligible.)
Here's a look at what each of these 12 teams has left:
5-5 SMU (at 7-4 Houston, vs 9-2 Central Florida)
5-5 Rutgers (at 1-9 UConn, vs 2-8 South Florida)
5-6 Syracuse (vs 7-4 Boston College)
5-6 Florida Atlantic (vs 1-10 Florida International)
5-6 Central Michigan (vs 2-9 Eastern Michigan)
6-6 Colorado State (vs 2-9 Air Force)
5-6 Wyoming (at 7-4 Utah State)
5-6 San Jose State (vs 10-0 Fresno State)
5-6 Mississippi State (vs 7-4 Mississippi)
5-6 Louisiana-Monroe (at 8-2 Louisiana-Lafayette)
5-6 Troy (vs 6-5 Texas State)
4-6 South Alabama (at 0-11 Georgia State, vs 8-2 Louisiana-Lafayette)
Of the above 12 teams, I believe that Rutgers, Florida Atlantic, Central Michigan and Colorado State will become bowl-eligible, which would create a surplus of 4 teams. Mississippi State and Syracuse could also both win, and MAC fans should be rooting against them in those games over the holiday weekend.
Based on the numbers of bowl-eligible teams plus where it appears that BCS bids will go, it appears that four conferences will fail to fill all of the bowl obligations -- the Big 10 (two games), Big 12 (one game), Mountain West (one game) and SEC (two games). A seventh spot, in the Poinsettia Bowl, will be open because Army is not eligible.
Those seven games will be filled by a pool of 11 surplus teams from five conferences -- the ACC (one team), Conference USA (one team), the MAC (four teams), the PAC 12 (two teams) and the Sun Belt (two teams). Notre Dame is also in this pool.
The MAC has secondary agreements with two bowls that should have open spots -- the Poinsettia Bowl and the BBVA Compass Bowl. The MAC also has secondary agreements with the New Mexico Bowl and the Beef O'Brady's Bowl, but it does not appear that either of those will have an open spot. Coupled with the MAC's three primary bowl agreements, this means that (at a minimum) the MAC should have five bowl teams.
Under these circumstances, the MAC should be able to get a sixth team; the only question is "where". Personally, I believe that the Pinstripe Bowl would be a great landing spot for Buffalo. However, many believe that Notre Dame will ultimately end up there. If that happens, the Independence Bowl (which took Ohio last year) would likely take another MAC team.
So, without further delay...
Week 14 MAC Bowl Projections
Little Caesars Bowl: Toledo (vs. Pittsburgh*)
GoDaddy.com Bowl: Ball State (vs. Western Kentucky)
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: BGSU (vs. Washington State**)
Poinsettia Bowl: Northern Illinois (vs. Boise State)
BBVA Compass Bowl: Ohio (vs. Middle Tennessee State)
Pinstripe Bowl: Buffalo (vs. Rutgers)
* -- replacement for Big Ten team
** -- replacement for Mountain West team
Eligible but no bowl: Central Michigan
Obviously, all of this could change in the next 14 days, for a variety of reasons. Either (or both) of Syracuse and Mississippi State could win next weekend, which would throw a monkey wrench into some things. Northern Illinois could end up back in the BCS, which would bump the other MAC teams up the ladder. There could be upsets in other conference championship games that would re-arrange where the spots in the BCS are awarded (and ultimately, which bowl spots open up). And, of course, the results of the BGSU/Buffalo game and the MAC Championship Game could still affect this pecking order.
So, stay tuned. We'll have two more of these projections -- one next week and then one final projection in two weeks, prior to the release of the final bowl pairings. (If it appears that the MAC's bowl teams will be announced prior to Sunday, Dec. 8th, we'll try to get this out before that information is released.)
For what it's worth, here are our projections for the remainder of the bowl schedule:
New Orleans Bowl: Marshall vs LA-Lafayette
Las Vegas Bowl: Utah State vs UCLA
New Mexico Bowl: UNLV vs Arizona
Beef O'Bradys St. Petersburg Bowl: Houston vs North Texas
Hawaii Bowl: Florida Atlantic vs San Diego State
Military Bowl: Maryland vs Tulane
Texas Bowl: Michigan vs Kansas State
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Brigham Young vs Washington
Belk Bowl: Cincinnati vs Georgia Tech
Russell Athletic Bowl: Louisville vs Miami-FL
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Iowa vs Texas Tech
Holiday Bowl: Texas vs Oregon
Armed Forces Bowl: Navy vs Colorado State
Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma vs USC
Music City Bowl: North Carolina vs Vanderbilt
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl: Boston College vs Notre Dame
Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech vs Arizona State
Liberty Bowl: East Carolina vs Mississippi
Chick-fil-A Bowl: Duke vs Georgia
Gator Bowl: Minnesota vs Missouri
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Rice vs Texas State
Outback Bowl: Nebraska vs South Carolina
Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin vs Texas A&M
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs Stanford
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs Fresno State
Sugar Bowl: Central Florida vs Auburn
Cotton Bowl: Baylor vs Louisiana State
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs Michigan State
BCS Championship Game: Florida State vs Alabama