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2016 MAC Bowl Projections: Week 8

What to do about NIU? And more attempts to play prognosticator.

NCAA Football: Buffalo at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

It was pointed out last week that we didn’t really explain how we decided to do bowl projections this year, so I’ll take a quick second here to do so:

Myself (James) and Fitz, along with the rest of the staff, use the Slack to communicate on blog-related items. Fitz and I decided it would be fun to try and talk through outr feelings on the bowl picture and that’s what you see here.

Enjoy this (lightly edited) look behind the curtain.


avkingjames (James H. Jimenez, assistant site manager of Hustle Belt): I still can't believe I watched Buffalo-NIU last night. AND Ohio-Kent State. WILLINGLY. Damn my commitment to these projections.

brownandgold (Brandon Fitzsimons, editor and WMU team manager of Hustle Belt): Suckerrrrrr. Welcome to my life with the Pickem

avkingjames: You could have at least given me a warning.

brownandgold: About projections? I forgot.

avkingjames: ANYWHO. Put on your smiling faces because it's time to possibly put Miami in a bowl. Maybe. Idk yet.

"But James, Miami has only won two games. Both in conference!" I retort: MAC East.

brownandgold: Yeah, no. EMU will end that conversation next week.

avkingjames: Thank goodness for the Eggles.

Here's the teams that could potentially reach bowls after yesterday: WMU, Toledo, CMU, EMU, Akron, Ohio, Ball State and Miami.

WMU and Toledo are surely in. CMU/EMU/Akron/Ohio all need one more win. The rest... have fun.

brownandgold: Kent State could make a bowl game (only one of their FCS wins counts, and they only have one hahahaha.) Realistically, WMU, Toledo, CMU, EMU, Akron, and Ohio are probably in. EMU should get in next week, CMU as well. Hell, even Akron gets bowl eligible next week against Buffalo.

avkingjames: That's nice. But where do we put them?

brownandgold: Can I start with WMU? Since these rankings have me all sorts of angry

avkingjames: You have the floor.

brownandgold: Poinsettia Bowl. There will be some kind of bullshit that'll keep them out of the Cotton Bowl. That's all I got to say about that [extreme Forest Gump voice]

avkingjames:

Okay... I guess that works. Let's take a closer look at that scenario since you're still in a mood. Boise was ranked 13 and Navy 22 by the AP Pollsters.

brownandgold: /grumbles loudly Here's my thing about Navy: They went from 0 votes to being ranked after beating Houston. Two weeks later, and Houston isn't even ranked in one of the polls. Navy is, despite only having Houston and Memphis as "quality wins." Yet, I still feel they'll jump WMU sometime. Probably with a win over a 2-5 Notre Dame team because the national media is stupid

avkingjames: We have to keep in mind that this poll literally doesn't matter after this week, since The Committee releases their poll starting soon. So, national media won't necessarily play a part. Though they could shape the perceptions.

I wanna talk more about Boise though.

brownandgold: As for Boise, I have nothing to say. They are winning as well, but the fact that they can keep moving up after a 1-point home win over BYU while Toledo can't get any points by having a lone 2-point loss to that same Cougar team (on the road no less) is exactly why WMU won't get in. And BYU went a total of +1 in those two games with a standard deviation of 1.5. In layman’s terms: two really close games. I agree with our in house conspirator Keith. The system is rigged and a joke. There are more naughty words, but they aren't printable.

avkingjames: You just said it though. They won, Toledo didn't. I'm looking at Boise's schedule right now and well... it's perfectly feasible they end up going undefeated in a weak Mountain West Conference. They next travel to a surprising Wyoming team, then host San Jose State (hello Ron English!), travel to Hawai'i, host UNLV and conclude at Air Force. Not exactly a gauntlet. Wyoming could be a very real threat, I think. And a Bronco Bowl WOULD be fantastic, but near impossible, alas.

brownandgold: Air Force beat Navy! But I agree. They won't be tested until the MWC Championship against (probably) San Diego State. Honestly, I'd love to see a Boise vs Western Cotton Bowl. It won't happen, but I'd love to see it if both teams are undefeated.

avkingjames: Way too much non-MAC talk going on here, though.

brownandgold: Toledo then? Yeah, Toledo. Dollar General Bowl. Still gonna stick with them as a solid "1B" option for Mobile.

avkingjames: At this point, it's hard not to agree. The former GoDaddy Bowl has generally been the place for the MAC runner-up to land and if Toledo does a good job, they could jump the MAC East champ in bowl order.

brownandgold: They get the first choice of the MAC school, but I realllllllllllllly doubt PJ Fleck wants to play in a "Dollar General" bowl game. Just so tacky and hard to sell on recruits

avkingjames: Could you imagine a situation where that happens and no one else can give WMU a bid due to everyone getting a bid?

brownandgold: No. A desperate school (Akron, EMU, Ball State) would take the bid and be glad before they got too far down the list

avkingjames: Speaking of. Let's put Akron in a bowl. Last week I had them in the DG Bowl. But since we put Toledo there, I guess I'll banish them to Idaho to defend their trophy. This is what happens when pollsters don't do homework.

brownandgold: I have a hard time seeing a team go to the same bowl back-to-back years in this day and age where we have 40 bowl games. Camellia Bowl seems right. Not too far, and Bowden gets to go to Alabama. I feel like I said this last week.

avkingjames: We did. By the way, his championship ring with Auburn: HUGE. EMU had a bit of a setback on Saturday with a loss to your beloved Broncos. Where do you think they go now?

brownandgold: You know, I wanna go back to the Bahamas Bowl pick from last week with the whole "Michigan MAC tradition" thing, but I think they'll win some games down the stretch and play themselves into the Boca Raton Bowl

avkingjames: Boooooooooo. I want them in Nassau, dang it. And their schedule could help a bit in that regard. CMU at the end of the season will be hard-fought, NIU the week before could be tough as well. Heck, Miami is on a tiny hot streak.

brownandgold: I see EMU winning their remaining games with how well they've been playing lately. And that includes a Senior Night win against your beloved Chippewas

avkingjames: Okay maybe you're right. But I still think EMU would be intriguing in the Bahamas against any opponent. So I'm keeping them there for now.

Here's the fun part: Trying to place CMU, BSU, and others.

brownandgold: You know who'd like the Bahamas? Frank Solich

avkingjames: Old men do like beaches, I'll give you that.

brownandgold: Also, I still don't think Ball State gets eligible They're 4-4, but they have WMU, EMU, and UT left back-to-back-to-back...

avkingjames: Not to mention a terrible OOC SOS.

brownandgold: Really, that doesn't matter. 80 teams make bowl games. They could be 5-7 and get in, but that's a LOT harder to predict

avkingjames: Yeah. Cards fans better hope Coach Neu makes them hit the books.

brownandgold: APR would be based more on the Lembo years at this point

avkingjames: Anyway, CMU to the Camellia Bowl, yes?

brownandgold: I have Akron there, so I'll put CMU in the Potato Bowl.

avkingjames: Ah well, I guess my family of Boise Broncos will be able to see my alma mater play there. (Hey Erica, hey Belinda, hey Dell, hey Elianna, hey Noah. Love you guys.)

brownandgold: I guess that leaves the Miami Beach Bowl open for a 5-7 (or 6-6) Ball State team to jump into, or WMU if they like Miami (who doesn't?)

avkingjames: I think Fleck would go for that Miami Bowl gladly. Isn't that the one where BYU gets an auto-bid?

brownandgold: Nah, that's the Poinsettia. And I guess the Boca doesn't have a MAC tie-in this year, so actually I'll put EMU in Miami. Toe-mate-toe toe-mah-toe.

avkingjames: Now let's talk possibilities! Say NIU manages to win a bunch of games and gets to 6-6 or 5-7. Could they be selected for a game?

brownandgold: I mean, any .500 team is almost a shoo-in for a bowl game. 50 FBS teams DON'T make bowl games.

avkingjames: Well yes, but which one is the ultimate issue. The MAC only has what, five primary slots? And we've already used a backup.

brownandgold: I mean, WMU is a wild-card. They can pick whatever bowl game they want to go to. They won't want to go Boise and they won't want to play in a "Dollar General" anything.

avkingjames: Right. Like I mentioned last week, knowing where the Broncos go is crucial to the rest of the MAC’s postseason schedule. Looking at the backup options, there IS the Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field, but that assumes 1) the SEC, American Athletic Conference AND Conference USA don't have any replacements.

Though, that would be interesting for NIU if they made it. Kinda appropriate, really. Legion Field is famous for literally being a crumbling shadow of its former self, much like the 2016 Huskies.

brownandgold: Haaaaaaaaaaaa. It's funny you mention a 5-7 NIU team, though. They have a better APR than Ball State via the NCAA database, so they'd get the nod over the Cardinals

avkingjames: There ya have it. Gotta win the 5th quarter, kiddos. Stay in school and don't do anything stupid. Unless you do it for a Vine. (But really, don't do anything stupid.)


To review, here are the official picks as of Week 8:

WMU - Poinsettia Bowl (Fitz), Miami Beach Bowl (James)

EMU - Miami Beach Bowl (Fitz), Bahamas Bowl (James)

Ohio - Bahamas Bowl (Fitz), Boca Raton Bowl (James

Akron - Camellia Bowl (Fitz), Potato Bowl (James)

Toledo - Dollar General Bowl (Fitz and James)

CMU - Potato Bowl (Fitz), Camellia Bowl (James)

Left out of the running: NIU, Ball State, Kent State, Miami