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 usuallty 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 blowout win by the Broncos. Kinda hard to move them off the Cotton Bowl spot, right?
avkingjames (James H. Jimenez, assistant site manager at Hustle Belt): You would think so, but alas, the ranking systems at this point don't agree on where exactly the Broncos are in that regard.
brownandgold: If they're undefeated, the committee can't leave them out of the NY6. Dems the rulez.
avkingjames: Stranger things have happened. But I suppose you're right. No way you keep them out just to make other schools feel good about themselves.
brownandgold: So Cotton Bowl vs Wisconsin?
avkingjames: I suppose that depends on who goes where.
Winner of Michigan v. Ohio State goes to the Playoff, probably. That would put the loser of that game and (probably, maybe?) Wisconsin in contention for a Rose Bowl. Whoever doesn't get picked there gets picked for the Cotton Bowl. That's how the tie-in works, right?
brownandgold: Yes. And I doubt the Rose Bowl would want to go with Wisconsin over the two prized cows of the Big Ten. Moving on to the MAC bowls themselves, I'm thinking the Dollar General Bowl will go with Ohio vs Troy.
avkingjames: That's the first time you haven't placed Toledo in this bowl. Do explain.
brownandgold: I think the Bobcats have an excellent shot to win out until the MAC Championship. Being a 9-win team would match Toledo, and they do have the head-to-head. Plus, it opens the Rockets to explore Nassau.
avkingjames: Hmm, I can't argue with that logic. A strong showing in the MAC Championship Game could also very well clinch them that bowl, too. It's weird when as a MAC team, you want an Alabama bowl, rather than a Florida one.
But Troy is definitely the favorite to get to that bowl out of the Sun Belt, for sure. They've only lost once and that was to Clemson by a touchdown. Whichever MAC team gets them should be the underdog.
brownandgold: Still should be a good game with either team.
avkingjames: Oh, for sure. And yeah, Toledo to the Bahamas. Though, that does beg the question: if we move Toledo to the Bahamas, then who do we have playing them?
brownandgold: How about Louisiana Tech?
avkingjames: That's not a bad team to face, certainly. I think whoever the CUSA Championship game loser is will wind up in Nassau. Right now, that's a LA Tech-WKU collision course.
brownandgold: What about you, friend?
avkingjames: There's no set order for CUSA bids outside of the champion picking their bowl. I think LA Tech would gladly take that trip if given the opportunity.
brownandgold: I mean, why not? It's the Bahamas!
avkingjames: Exactly. And WKU has already been there, anyways. Let the others have some fun. Okay, next bowl. What do you see for the Miami Beach Bowl?
brownandgold: Hmmm, this is close, but the Miami RedHawks.
brownandgold: So you have Miami in Miami.
avkingjames: I ask again... MIAMI!?
brownandgold: ... MIAMI TWICE.
/shows self out
avkingjames: Get back here and explain yourself.
brownandgold: They have a layup to a 6-6 record and might've killed CMU in the process on Friday. Miami has Buffalo and then Ball State. Both winable games. And with the MAC looking light on bowl teams this year, they'll get in
avkingjames: Let me present a situation. What happens if they lose to say, Ball State and win the other games vs. an East foe?
brownandgold: Then they're out and Ball State is likely in
avkingjames: Even if the apocalypse happens and Miami somehow wins the East? Akron hasn't looked good recently and we know Ohio is prone to collapse.
brownandgold: Yes. I think Miamis record keeps them from a higher bowl. And Akron gets BGSU coming up to get to 6 wins. Even they can't mess that up. And I think Akron still woos the Camellia Bowl with Bowden. They'll face Georgia Southern
avkingjames: Valid points, all of those. Unless BGSU pulls a win from their back pocket somewhere. I mean, can't leave that possibility out of the equation the way the last two weeks have been. That being said, I agree with Akron getting to the Camellia Bowl right now.
They'll probably face the Sun Belt third runner-up in a division that's Troy's to lose at the moment. I don't think GaSo is gonna be I position to do that. App State, Troy and yes, Arkansas State are all undefeated. Hell, Idaho is ahead of GaSo right now.
I'm gonna throw in my lot with Arkansas State here.
brownandgold: Arkansas State would be a solid 2nd choice Back to the West, I think EMU does their penance and goes to Idaho to face Air Force.
avkingjames: Man, that just SCREAMS "random midweek afternoon bowl matchup."
brownandgold: I love it. EMU and Pat O'Connor against the Air Force attack. And CMU doesn't get in. Which is weird after that 3-0 start. But with Ohio and a trip to EMU left, I really don't like their odds.
They played themselves out of bowl contention with losses to Miami and Kent State. And Ball State and NIU both have Toledo left. Until they beat them, we can't talk.
avkingjames: Yeah. I had high concerns about that game going in and they were confirmed on Friday night. It was a disappointing effort. Now, we have to bear one of a hot Ohio or a competitive EMU. Never would have thought CMU would be in this position looking at the preseason schedule and that 3-0 start. A lot of weird things have been happening and CMU has definitely fallen victim to some of the worst of it.
Not that most fans care. The majority of them are more concerned about MSU being 2-6 and Michigan competing for the Playoff. So. I'm gonna hold my tongue on that before I get in trouble.
We live in a weird, weird world. At one point, we had five of the six MAC West teams going to bowls and now? Miami, who didn't win a single OOC game, could get to a bowl before Ball State, CMU or NIU.
brownandgold: The East woke up. Ohio got better on defense. Miami turned their season around. Kent State found some consistency on offense.
avkingjames: That it did. And that could save the reputation of the conference. Getting back to this though. For the Potato Bowl, I'm going to go with EMU to play....
brownandgold: A rematch? Ooooooh
avkingjames: Yes. I want to see this game again on a neutral field. It's also one of the likeliest matchups. Boise doesn't want to defend home turf, Air Force needs to win out to qualify, San Diego State will also probably want to go elsewhere for a bowl. Wyoming has been sneaky good and this wouldn't be a bad place to go for your first bowl since 2011.
Cowboys love potatoes. Right?
brownandgold: Fair enough. I'm skeptical if they'll allow it, but it was a great game. I was lucky enough to cover it
And eagles. Eagles love potatoes. (NOTE: Eagles may not really eat potatoes)
avkingjames: Now it gets fun. Which teams out of the remainders make bowls? We placed Akron earlier. You placed Miami. We both agree CMU is toast. What does that leave?
brownandgold: I mean, you're asking which 5-7s go where. Which, I do not know. CMU could play in New Mexico.
avkingjames: Well let's look at it this way. Do enough teams qualify to become bowl-eligible, or will bowls be forced to pick 5-7 squads?
brownandgold: There are 80 bowl spots. Right now, there are 48 bowl eligible teams. There are 19 teams eliminated from eligibility, with another 19 one loss away. There are 24 teams one win away from eligibility (including CMU). Those are the numbers so far.
That also doesn't include teams that decide not to go bowling. So 32 spots left, and roughly 50 teams left before you factor in the "one win aways". CMU will be 5-7, and maybe Kent State or NIU.
Then you default to APR, and I think CMU is on the low end of that scale. Both 5-7 NIU and Miami would get in over a 5-7 CMU according to the current APR scores.
avkingjames: Good times. Well, here's what we've got moving forward:
Bowl projections for Week 10:
WMU - Cotton v. Nebraska (Fitz), Cotton v. Wisconsin (James)
Ohio - Dollar General v. Troy (Fitz and James)
Toledo - Bahamas v. LA Tech (Fitz and James)
Miami - Miami Beach v. USF (Fitz), Miami Beach v. Tulsa (James)
Akron - Camellia v. Georgia Southern (Fitz), Camellia v. Arkansas State (James)
EMU - Potato v. Air Force (Fitz), Potato v. Wyoming (James)
Bubble teams left out: NIU, Kent State, CMU, Ball State