Can you believe it? Over three months of college football has flown by, and now all of the games (well, except for Army-Navy) have been played. In just 12 hours or so, the bowl pairings will be announced.
And not that it's really relevant to the Mid-American Conference anymore, but the final EVER Bowl Championship Series standings will also be released just hours from now.
The three teams with questions remaining about bowl eligibility went 2-1 today. Southern Methodist lost at home to Central Florida, but Rutgers defeated South Florida at home and South Alabama routed Louisiana-Lafayette. These two victories mean that there will be 80 bowl-eligible teams in 2013 for 70 available bowl spots. In other words, ten teams will be disappointed and have no place to play a bowl game.
However, the MAC benefited from SMU's loss. The Mustangs' misfortune means that the Beef 'O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl will not fill its spot from the American Athletic Conference. Since the MAC has a secondary agreement with that game, the MAC will now have five bowl teams. Those teams will occupy the MAC's three primary bowls (Little Caesars Pizza, GoDaddy.com, Famous Idaho Potato), as well as two secondary bowls (Poinsettia, Beef 'O'Brady's).
With all that said, here are my final predictions. Apologies to the Ohio Bobcats and Central Michigan Chippewas.
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl -- Bowling Green (vs. Pittsburgh*)
GoDaddy.com Bowl -- Ball State (vs. ARKANSAS STATE)
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl -- Buffalo (vs. Colorado State)
Poinsettia Bowl -- Northern Illinois (vs. Utah State)
Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl -- Toledo (vs. Florida Atlantic)
* -- Substitute for Big Ten team
Eligible teams with no bowl: Ohio, Central Michigan
You might notice that I've switched out NIU's opponent to Utah State. It appears that Fresno State will be invited to the Las Vegas Bowl. I've placed Toledo in the newly-available Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl against Conference USA member Florida Atlantic. However, I will say about all of these that I don't have specific inside information -- these projections are based on historical trends, ideas about what each bowl is looking for, and how the season has played out.
Honestly, NIU could end up anywhere other than Tampa. I think Buffalo could end up in Boise, San Diego or Tampa. Toledo could also go to Boise, San Diego or Tampa. I believe that BGSU and Ball State are most likely to end up in Detroit and Mobile in some order, but Ball State could also end up in San Diego, while there's an outside chance that BGSU could be relegated to Boise.
So, stay tuned. We'll have an announcement as soon as the word comes down about where each team is going and analyze the matchups as soon as they're available.
In the meantime, here are projections for the complete schedule of bowl games. Teams listed in all caps are already locked into that bowl game.
|Bowl||Team 1||Team 2|
|New Orleans Bowl||UL-LAFAYETTE||TULANE|
|Las Vegas Bowl||Fresno State||Southern Cal|
|New Mexico Bowl||Nevada-Las Vegas||Arizona|
|Famous Idaho Potato Bowl||Buffalo (MAC)
|Beef 'O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl||Toledo (MAC)
|Hawaii Bowl||East Caroina
||San Diego State|
|Little Caesars Pizza Bowl||Bowling Green (MAC)
|Poinsettia Bowl||Northern Illinois (MAC)
|Texas Bowl||Minnesota||Oregon State
|Fight Hunger Bowl||BRIGHAM YOUNG||Washington|
|Belk Bowl||CINCINNATI||Georgia Tech|
|Russell Athletic Bowl||LOUISVILLE||Miami (Fla.)|
|Pinstripe Bowl||NOTRE DAME
|Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl||Michigan||Texas Tech|
|Holiday Bowl||Kansas State
|Armed Forces Bowl||NAVY||Boise State|
|Music City Bowl||North Carolina||Vanderbilt|
|Independence Bowl||Boston College||Washington State|
|Sun Bowl||Virginia Tech||Arizona State
|Chick-fil-A Bowl||Duke||Texas A&M
|Heart of Dallas Bowl||North Texas||Syracuse
|Capital One Bowl||Wisconsin||South Carolina|
|Rose Bowl (BCS)||MICHIGAN STATE
|Fiesta Bowl (BCS)||BAYLOR
|Sugar Bowl (BCS)||Alabama||Oklahoma|
|Orange Bowl (BCS)||Clemson||Ohio State
|Cotton Bowl||Oklahoma State
|BBVA Compass Bowl||Houston||Mississippi State|
|GoDaddy.com Bowl||ARKANSAS STATE
||Ball State (MAC)
|BCS National Championship||Florida State||Auburn|