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): Another week, another time for bowl projections! Getting reallllly close to the finish now, eh?
avkingjames: Yes we are! By the way. Remember when you said CMU wasn't going bowling? Well, we hit a STRIKE, BABY! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
brownandgold: I must admit, I was wrong. Cmu found another gear and beat Ohio and I don't know the MAC anymore... But! We might fill all our slots now. Go us!
avkingjames: You can thank us later, Fitzy.
(This is the part where I preen and talk about how I had faith in CMU that they could win against Ohio, given their record against the Cats in recent years and that I didn't want to place them in a bowl on here unless they were eligible because I am a superstitious hack.)
brownandgold: Blah blah blah, they're still probably gonna end up in the Potato Bowl. And hey, they can play Wyoming now!
avkingjames: I do think that the EMU-CMU game next week will determine who ends up getting that final primary bowl spot if Miami ends up getting to 6-6. Otherwise, it's for the higher-standard bowl.
brownandgold: Hmmmm, I want to think EMU wins behind the passion of a rivalry game and Senior Night, but I don't know. Still, I have the Eagles playing in a bowl you and I are familiar with.
avkingjames: I'm not sure about that. EMU was really sloppy in the second half against a bad NIU squad before falling apart in OT. There's a lot of weaknesses to expose in that regard. I think CMU slips into a primary slot, especially if Akron cannot take care of business.
brownandgold: CMU will definitely get a primary spot. I still don't think Akron will be able to stop Ohio on the ground, and the RedHawks have a very winnable game against Ball State. That's 6 bowl-eligible teams for 5 spots. BUT, the Broncos are unlikely to take part in a MAC bowl.
avkingjames: Still confident that WMU can win the remaining game against Toledo and then the MACCG and maintain a good ranking?
brownandgold: I see no reason not to. I'm nervous, but the Broncos appear to be the most complete team in the MAC this year
avkingjames: I think Toledo may have something to say about that, but that's a different conversation for another day.
We both assume WMU can go on to win it all and go into the Cotton Bowl, so let's keep going. The Bahamas Bowl is usually the first bowl to be announced on account of its unique nature. What happens here, you think?
brownandgold: I have the Eagles headed there to face LA Tech. The Michigan MAC completes its three year cycle of filling that bowl.
And let me clarify, even if WMU doesn't make the Cotton Bowl, I still think they hold out for a different bid that's not the Miami Beach or Dollar General bowls. They'll be in a position where they could easily do that.
avkingjames: I too would love to have that optimism about the Eagles, but I'm just not sure if I can go that far for EMU. It's a storybook ending to a storybook season, but it'll cost a lot of money for EMU to go to Nassau.
The Quick Lane Bowl could be a spot as a potential Big Ten replacement, especially if three of the top teams are in CFP/NY6/big ticket bowls. Because after Wisconsin.... oh boy.
brownandgold: That would be the only bowl where EMU really wouldn't pay that much. Everything else will require a financial investment that they'd be stupid to say no to. If you are EMU, and haven't been to a bowl in nearly 30 years, and then say no? You gotta drop football (or drop to the FCS). Because you're clearly not playing at this one.
avkingjames: I would think EMU might prefer getting fans in seats at an easily accessible bowl over going to Nassau where they get maybe a couple hundred fans.
My Bahamas Bowl prediction as of right now is probably Ohio vs. LA Tech. It's looking more and more like LA Tech will probably win the championship in CUSA, which is... uh... not a great conference.
brownandgold: Nobody travels to the Bahamas Bowl. You really can't when it's right before Christmas. The casual MAC fan doesn't have that kind of moolah.
avkingjames: Right. Now to the other bowls.
The Dollar General Bowl in lovely Mobile, Alabama! That could be a fun matchup. And the Sun Belt experienced great turmoil last week.
brownandgold: Hmmm, I would say Ohio, but I feel like the CMU loss coupled with a loss to the MAC West Champion will hurt them. I'll put Toledo there against.....uhhh......hmmm... App State?
avkingjames: I believe DG is against the Sun Belt Champ. So right now, that’s... Arkansas State, who is currently undefeated in-conference. Except... they already played this season.
brownandgold: Then the DG Bowl would have no choice and would have to select Ohio as to avoid a rematch (a lopsided one at that.)
avkingjames: Fun. The Camellia Bowl in good ol' Montgomery, AL is next!
brownandgold: Hmmmm, I'm gonna keep Miami there, and they'll face Troy
avkingjames: Hmmmmm. Interesting game, there. The game could also take App State or Idaho, as tie-ins currently stand. Think they want a local team, though.
I'll have to agree with you. For now.
brownandgold: I think the Trojans are a good pick as to keep them in Alabama and limit the transportation costs. Plus, that bowl gets a solid attendance boost whereas App St or Idaho would have to travel quite a ways
avkingjames: Yep. A pity Troy ran into the Sun Belt Death Machine that is Arkansas State.
brownandgold: Who is horrid out-of-conference. The Red Wolves are the NIU of the Sun Belt. They've owned it over the past few years
avkingjames: Yep. This leaves us the Miami Beach Bowl and the Potato Bowl! CMU would prefer going out-of-state compared to EMU, I would think. Maybe Akron can sneak that sixth win. But then, we thought they would vs. BGSU and we saw what happened.
brownandgold: I think Toledo ends up in Miami to play USF still.
avkingjames: I think CMU ends up there, assuming the Alabama bowls are best teams first. Traditionally, the "worst" bowl-eligible team ends up in Idaho. As I have CMU winning against EMU, that places that for me.
brownandgold: Aaaaaand, I have CMU there. Sorry, not sorry
avkingjames: I hate you, Fitz.
Let's talk backup bowls. Say that Akron and Miami get to 6-6. Which, looks less and less certain both will get there. But this is a rhetorical exercise after all. There's 65 teams at 6 wins or more for 80 spots. Does it happen for them?
brownandgold: I think NIU might get an APR bid over Akron, but I have no idea where they'd be. Maybe it opens the door for EMU to go to the Quick Lane Bowl, and the NIU/Akron goes to the Bahamas, but it's so hard to tell.
avkingjames: I don't think the Bahamas will take an APR team.
brownandgold: They may not have a choice.
avkingjames: My prevailing theory is that there's only going to be about four or five APR's. NIU and Akron aren't top 5 by a wide margin.
brownandgold: Well, you have to take away the bowl eligible teams first, then it goes by winning percentage, then APR. NIU could make it from what I've seen. NIU doesn't have to have a Top 5 APR, just Top 5 out of the 5-7 teams.
avkingjames: Okay, here we go. Recap time:
Picks for Week 12:
WMU - Cotton Bowl vs Wisconsin (Fitz and James)
Toledo - Miami Beach Bowl vs USF (Fitz), Dollar General Bowl vs Arkansas State (James)
Ohio - Dollar General Bowl vs Arkansas State (Fitz), Bahamas Bowl vs LA Tech (James)
Miami - Camellia Bowl vs Troy (Fitz and James)
EMU - Bahamas Bowl vs LA Tech (Fitz), Potato Bowl vs New Mexico (James)
CMU - Potato Bowl vs Wyoming (Fitz), Miami Beach Bowl vs. USF (James)
Left out: Akron, Ball State
Unprojected: NIU, Kent State