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.
You can catch both of us on Facebook Live each week, as I usually handle #HustleBagLive on Wednesday evenings and Fitz usually handles the weekend preview/recap on Saturday evenings.
Enjoy this (lightly edited) look behind the curtain.
brownandgold (Brandon Fitzsimons, WMU writer and general editor at Hustle Belt): Ugh, I don't wanna do this today.
avkingjames (James H. Jimenez, assistant site manager at Hustle Belt): I feel you.
brownandgold: Anyway: another week, another time for bowl projections. And somehow, things look more bleak for the MAC than before
avkingjames: I find myself in that weird spot where I feel like I should be more excited than ever about the conference outlook, but at the same time, there's so much uncertainty I feel like the conference could take a step back.
brownandgold: Well, wanna start with the crown jewel again? I still have WMU in the Cotton Bowl, even though there's a growing contingent out there that think a 1-loss Boise State or San Diego State team gets in over them. Which, that's laughable, because if you can't beat your conference or South Alabama, why are you in the discussion against an undefeated team?
avkingjames: Right? SDSU getting ranked by the Coaches Poll and the AP Poll definitely does not help in that regard. It makes Boise looks stronger and vice versa. Troy (who finally got ranked!) could also cause some trouble if they win out and something bad happens.
I still hold hope that WMU has the easiest path to going undefeated and winning their conference. If the committee breaks their own rule on that, then what is the point of the exercise?
brownandgold: Don't even get me started. But I don't think the committee brings that hell upon them. If you win all of your games, you should be rewarded. WMU didn't beat a P5 team at home, they did it on the road. That should say something. It should also say something that there are just two unbeatens left. It's hard as hell to do
avkingjames: You're preaching to the choir here, Fitz. But for now let's conservatively place them in the Cotton Bowl. I have them playing Wisconsin. UM/OSU will find their way to the Playoff and the Rose Bowl, which leaves Penn State and Wisconsin as (I think) the most likely options.
brownandgold: I'll take Penn State. Let's hope something crazy happens in the Big Ten
avkingjames: Man, do I really have to cheer for Penn State? This stinks. Moving on. How about Akron, eh? Not looking too hot.
brownandgold: Lol. They're toast. They had to beat BG because Ohio is on fire, and they choked. They're out of my bowl projections.
avkingjames: Say it ain't so!
brownandgold: It's so, and it's weird because they were supposed to win the East
avkingjames: Yep. Miami is in a great position because they need to just do their thing and have Ohio absolutely self-destruct, which isn't necessarily out of their DNA.
brownandgold: With regards to Miami, they aren't winning the East. Ohio has two teams in the middle of slumps left, and they just have to win ONE of them. Plus, I think the Ohio November collapses were a Tyler Tettleton thing. That said, if Miami can beat Ball State, they're firmly in a bowl. I'll say Camelia against App State.
avkingjames: Agreed. Miami is just too hot to ignore right now. Although I'm gonna place Idaho in that bowl. I think App State might end up going elsewhere.
brownandgold: I'm sure the Vandals would gladly take it. Speaking of Ohio, the presumptive MAC East Champs still look to be headed to the Dollar General Bowl to face Troy in my book
avkingjames: Yep, I can agree with that. Though, I really wish Troy could jump higher in the rankings and force the Committee to consider them for something bigger.
brownandgold: They should be considered over Boise, but that won't happen. That said, even though they have a "good loss", they still have a loss. WMU should hold the trump card.
avkingjames: Again, SHOULD. Let's get to other teams though. If there are any... it's a rather apocalyptic scene.
brownandgold: Well, we haven't gotten to Toledo or EMU. Hard to forget the Rockets, but the Eagles are usually left at home. They're officially bowl eligible after a wild win over Ball State! How 'bout dem Iggles?
avkingjames: Fly Eggles fly!
brownandgold: .......Right to the Potato Bowl!
avkingjames: I heard Moscow is lovely this time of year.
brownandgold: Am I missing something? Moscow, Russia is always horrible. Moscow, ID is home to the Vandals, not the Potato Bowl. That claim goes to Boise (which I have heard is always beautiful)
avkingjames: Well shoot. I guess I have Idaho on my mind. Because they would be a shoo-in if the Sun Belt had a tie-in here.
But they dont, so we have to pick a Mountain West team. Seeing as how Boise is probably not going to play there and Wyoming would be a rematch, we have to really dig deep here. New Mexico would be a good choice, but they have a bowl in their home state they could play in. However, I think that doesn't happen, and the Lobos end up in Boise to face the Eagles.
avkingjames: Damn it, stop making logical sense. It's really hard to fight you when I agree with you. But yeah, that's most likely for EMU, given everything that's going on there.
That LA Tech/Toledo Bahamas Bowl is gonna be lit, tho.
brownandgold: Oh snap. Can I switch Miami out and put them in the Bahamas Bowl? The MAC should avoid the Camelia Bowl at all costs. I have Toledo in the Miami Beach Bowl.
avkingjames: I mean, of you want to. Inevitably, I think a team ends up in the Camellia Bowl.
brownandgold: A non-MAC team, likely. Or one that gets in on APR, which we don't project.
We gotta finish this up. So I have Miami vs LA Tech in the Bahamas Bowl, and Toledo playing the Miami Beach Bowl against South Florida
avkingjames: Yeah, this week is really hard to project with so many teams on that bubble in the conference. (Looking at you, Akron and CMU.)
brownandgold: NIU could still make a bowl game via APR, but they have to win out with two somewhat difficult games in EMU and Kent State, with the latter also looking at trying to get to 5-7.
avkingjames: Oh yeah, forgot about them too. This conference is too damn unpredictable. We could place four teams in bowls this week, but also none.
But I suppose I have to fess up my picks, so here goes nothing:
Bowl projections for Week 11:
WMU- Cotton v. Wisconsin (James), Cotton v. Penn State (Fitz)
Toledo- Bahamas v. LA Tech (James), Miami Beach v. USF (Fitz)
Ohio- Dollar General v. Troy (both)
Miami- Camellia vs. Idaho (James), Bahamas v. LA Tech (Fitz)
EMU- Potato v. New Mexico (both)
Teams left out: Akron, Ball State, CMU, Kent State, NIU