Okay. The MAC's three primary tie-is, in order:
1. Pizza Bowl (née Motor City Bowl), December 26 in Detroit vs. the Big Ten or Sun Belt
2. GoDaddy.com Bowl (née GMAC Bowl), January 6 in Mobile, Alabama vs. the Sun Belt
3. Humanitarian Bowl, December 18 in Boise vs. the WAC
4. TicketCity Bowl, January 1 in Dallas. This is between the Big Ten and Big XII. Conference USA is the primary backup, and should they be unable to send a team, the MAC gets one.
5. Compass Bowl, January 8 in Birmingham. This is between the Big East and the SEC, with the MAC as the primary backup.
Bowl eligible teams: Northern Illinois (10-2), Miami (8-4), OHIO (8-4), Temple (8-4), Toledo (8-4), and Western Michigan (6-6). In the best-case scenario, 72 teams will fight for 70 corporate goodie bags. So here's my projections:
Think of the first three like a draft. The bowls are gonna pick teams that (a) will draw attendance, and (b) will provide an interesting game.
Pizza Bowl - Northern Illinois vs. Louisville
You don't pass up the opportunity to invite a Top 25 team (which they oughta be come next week.) There are eight Big Ten bowl teams and methinks they get one of those BCS at-larges, which means the Sun Belt's third team could get this one instead, which would be Middle Tennessee, but they have to beat the capable Florida International to get bowl eligible. That may not happen. And since Notre Dame beat USC to improve to 7-5, they can usurp one of the Big East's bowls, kicking the sixth and final BE team out of their rotation and into this one. That would be 6-6 Louisville. However, what kind of challenge is that for NIU? Who they should invite: If I'm the Pizza Bowl, I bring Toledo. It's in their backyard and they're the largest metro fanbase in the area.
GoDaddy.com Bowl - Miami vs. Troy
Gah. Which 8-4 team do you take? The best one of the litter beyond NIU has to be Toledo, but Miami won their division so I'll put 'em in Mobile. It appears that Troy will return to this game after falling to Central Michigan in overtime last year. Who they should invite: Yeah, Miami's probably the right answer.
Humanitarian Bowl - OHIO vs. Boise State
Now here's where it gets interesting. You gotta think Boise is a lock, after inexplicably losing to Nevada, to host this bowl game on their very own azure oasis. Even though Toledo is the next best team left on the board, you really don't want a rematch of that. So the next team is OHIO. Who they should take: So here's the prob. The H-Bowl selects the third best MAC team. That's not fair to Boise State, and it presents the exact same problem NIU could face in the Pizza Bowl. The ideal situation is to discuss this with the other bowls, teams, and the conferences to decide what in the best interest for everybody (and for the competition). You bring Northern Illinois into this game for a good ol' fashioned MAC-on-WAC marquee event. It'd still be one that Boise State would win by 20 points or more, but it's the best-case scenario.
But going back to the "what will happen" storyline, we have Toledo, Temple, and WMU remaining in the queue.
This is really a crapshoot, guys, but here's a stab at the dark. So hey, the Pac-10 has six tie-ins and currently have three eligible with a likely fourth and an astronomical chance for all six to qualify. So that'll probably open two vacancies in the Maaco (Las Vegas) Bowl and the Fight Hunger Bowl. You'll also have a free spot in the Armed Forces Bowl vs. Army, thanks to the Mountain West sending TCU to a BCS game.
Any amount of peering into the window from the outside won't get me any closer to accuracy using gut instincts, so here are the guesses:
Temple to the Maaco Bowl against Utah.
Toledo to the Fight Hunger Bowl against Nevada.
Western Michigan won't get a bowl game. Sorry, but with 70 eligible teams and 70 spots, if any of these teams gets a sixth win, it's the end of the season for the Broncos:
Oregon State (last game: vs. Oregon)
Arizona State (last game: vs. Arizona)
Washington (last game: vs. Washington State)
Middle Tennessee (last game: vs. Florida International)*
Louisiana Tech (last game: vs. Nevada)
* - Actually, I don't know about this one. Western Michigan probably has the edge over MTSU.