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2016 MAC Bowl Projections: Week 9

What a mess we’ve made, thinking we knew what was going on in the Mid-American Conference.

Ohio v Toledo Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images

Myself (James) and Fitz, along with the rest of the staff, use the Slack app to communicate on blog-related items.

Fitz and I decided it would be fun to write an article each week through Slack DM’s and try and talk through our feelings on the bowl picture and the results are what you see here.

Enjoy this (lightly edited) look behind the curtain.

avkingjames (James H. Jimenez, assistant site manager at Hustle Belt): Blahblahblah bowl projections here we are.

brownandgold (Brandon Fitzsimons, WMU writer and editor at Hustle Belt): Hi buddy. How are you?

avkingjames: I'm at my local coffeehouse trying to cope with whatever the flying hell this past week was.

brownandgold: So much fun. I went 0-4 in the pick'em. As did so many others.

avkingjames: It mostly consists of me sipping from something called a "moka" and rocking back and forth whispering "the horror...." over and over again.

brownandgold: Happy Halloween!

avkingjames: Yaaaaaaay. Okay, moving on to the inevitable. I wanna try something hot fast.

brownandgold: /grabs oven mitts

avkingjames: Now that our bowl picture is a lot clearer (in a sense) let's try and actually predict match ups this time around. Sound good?

brownandgold: I’ll see what I can patch together.

avkingjames: I thought we were baking something, given that you're wearing oven mitts. Anywho.

There's a certain team we should probably talk about first. The luckiest dadgum team this side of the Mississippi.

brownandgold: Ohio?

avkingjames: I meant WMU. Pick up what I'm throwing out there, man!

brownandgold: I don't see WMU as lucky as much as they are good :sunglasses:

avkingjames: Yeah yeah yeah. I meant lucky as in the rest of the college football landscape seeming to fall into favor for the Broncos. They've got the easiest route to Arlington at this juncture, I think.

brownandgold: Well, first up is Ball State on a Tuesday, and after what happened in Week 9, I'm going to wait before I fully crown them. That said, I really like the Broncos to make it to the Cotton Bowl.

avkingjames: I do too. They've got the easiest schedule to win out and probably a MAC title too if they keep going as is. Boise is ranked, but they have a loss. Houston is currently outside the rankings as well with a loss and honestly should have three losses in-conference. They don't look good at all.

brownandgold: One important thing to remember is that it's the highest ranked "Group of Five" *conference champion* that gets the autobid. So with Boise the equivalent of two games back of Wyoming right now, only San Diego State has any shot of sliding up into the picture.

avkingjames: Right. SDSU is outside the top 25 too as a "receiving votes" squad. Hypothetically, if WMU ranks high enough and is undefeated, I'd argue they could make the Playoff. Though, you and I know they'll be quashed down for reasons.

brownandgold: It would take a lot of dominoes to fall between now and then, but it is possible, if highly unlikely.

avkingjames: So we both agree that WMU goes to the Cotton Bowl. But, who do they play?

brownandgold: I could see them playing a team from the Big 12. It'd be fun to see them play Oklahoma State, if only for the inevitable CMU game talk


brownandgold: His team is 7-1 if that call goes his team's way.

avkingjames: Well, it didn't. So they're 6-2. Moving on.

I think they're gonna play a team that gets squeezed out of the playoff. So, I'm looking at a team like... Louisville or someone in that 6-10 range. I think LUHVIL is most likely, given Lamar Jackson is straight cash, homie when he's on TV.

brownandgold: I think they end up in the Orange Bowl rather than the Cotton Bowl. ACC ties and whatnot.

avkingjames: Oh yeah. Forgot about those pesky things. MUST BE NICE TO HAVE AN AUTO-BID TO A MAJOR BOWL.

brownandgold: Moving on to our other schools, Toledo and Ohio are also bowl eligible now.

avkingjames: Yep, though, Ohio getting eligible this early is a bit of a surprise. Also Toledo finds the damndest way to lose games they shouldn't, don't they?

brownandgold: I wouldn't mind them losing to NIU again this year, but that's just me. Anyways, I think Solich assured his trip to the Bahamas this weekend with that UT win.

avkingjames: Why to the Bahamas, though? And who would they play?

brownandgold: Strong, but not a great team. Ohio could still play their way to Mobile, but I think that still goes to Toledo. As for the opponent? I'm going with Louisiana Tech.

avkingjames: An intriguing matchup for sure. I think EMU still has a chance to play down to the Bahamas Bowl, especially after that bad loss to Miami. Not a bad landing spot to drop to, IMO.

brownandgold: EMU fell to the Potato Bowl in my projections. Tough loss

avkingjames: I guess where they go depends on what each bowl committee wants in a matchup. If EMU ends up in Nassau, I think they matchup with Old Dominion, who currently stands at 6-2 (3-1) in CUSA. It's a fun recent rivalry that always generates entertaining games.

brownandgold: That would be interesting. If they're in Boise, it's tough to project an opponent. Wyoming is out due to the matchup in September, and unless San Diego State loses the MWC, I'd have to put Boise or Air Force in the Potato Bowl

avkingjames: What about New Mexico? They're at five wins and 3-1 in the MWC.

brownandgold: Possibly. I still think the organizers would love Boise at home for their bowl game, even though the Broncos probably wouldn’t want that.

avkingjames: I would totally be in for a Ohio vs. Boise State Potato Bowl.

Okay, so we've put WMU, EMU and Ohio into bowls. We kinda touched on Toledo going to the DG Bowl but didn't provide an opponent. Unless they play themselves. Again.

brownandgold: I'll say the Troy/App State winner is in that bowl, so we'll go with Troy for now.

avkingjames: Shoutout to Troy for surpassing everyone's expectations this year, by the way. Who saw that coming this year? I'll tell you who: nobody.

App State isn't nearly as good as last year and Georgia Southern has fallen into a giant pit of sadness for some reason.

You also totally missed my joke at the end, Fitz, but that's fine. Now we're hitting the nitty-gritty. We only have one more primary selection (the Camellia Bowl) and three secondary bowls (Quick Lane, Poinsettia and Birmingham) left to fill.

We also have CMU, NIU, Akron, and Miami (!?!?) to consider for eligibility. So, what happens?

brownandgold: There's a lot of teams on the bubble. Let me first start out by saying that I don't think NIU, Kent State (3-6), Buffalo (2-6) and Ball State (4-4) ALL miss bowl eligibility.

As for CMU, Akron, and Miami, here are my thoughts. For the Zips, they still have the BGSU game to get bowl eligible, but that's really the last gimme game they have left. I think they win that one and lock up the Camellia Bowl.

As for Miami and CMU, it really comes down to who wins this weekend

avkingjames: I think Akron makes that last primary bowl too. Though, they really need to clean up their game on offense. I have no idea what's going on with their musical chair at quarterback. Is Woodson injured or not?

brownandgold: I think he's fine, but that run defense is porous - at best - right now

avkingjames: Going back to Miami-CMU: Both teams are on fire. Miami is torching people at the right time, while CMU is ablaze and quickly crumbling. I don't like that matchup for my alma mater.

I know people say momentum doesn't exist or whatever, but I can't discount that Miami has always played CMU tough since Martin took over there and Cooper Rush hasn’t looked like himself since the Virginia game.

A lot of it is injuries at key positions, but goodness me if the team just isn't firing on all cylinders. CMU had plenty of opportunities to ice that game against Kent and just laid a giant egg.

brownandgold: That loss to Kent State was really ugly. You can't have four field goals blocked (whether they counted or not.) So I say Miami wins, and with Ohio and EMU left on CMU's schedule, I don't see them getting bowl eligible.

avkingjames: Yeah, CMU lost by attrition. Assuming all three FG's go in, that's a whole different game. But alas.

brownandgold: The RedHawks, on the other hand, have Buffalo and Ball State. Win those two games, and we're not only talking about a possible bowl game, they might get in the MAC Championship!

avkingjames: I've always had trust in Miami to put the pieces together. I just didn't think it was going to be this year. Or in the fashion they're doing it in right now. They've got a real chance to finish 2-1 over the last three games before (most likely) getting pasted by WMU in a potential MAC Championship Game.

Just that alone could get them a bowl over Akron. Or a secondary bowl at the very last, such as the Quick Lane Bowl.

brownandgold: Don't forget the Miami Beach Bowl, where I have the RedHawks facing Tulsa.

avkingjames: Holy weird football matchup, Batman.

brownandgold: So let’s recap where we stand with bowls this week, then:

WMU - Cotton Bowl vs Oklahoma State (both)

Toledo - Dollar General Bowl vs Troy (both)

Ohio - Bahamas Bowl vs Louisiana Tech (Fitz) or Potato Bowl vs. Boise State (James)

Miami - Miami Beach Bowl vs Tulsa (Fitz)

EMU - Potato Bowl vs Boise State (Fitz) or Bahamas Bowl vs. Old Dominion (James)

Akron- Camellia Bowl vs. Idaho (Fitz) or vs. Georgia Southern (James)

No bowls: CMU, NIU, Kent State, Buffalo (both), Miami (James)