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2014 MAC Football Bowl Projections: Week 13 Edition

The race for the College Football Playoff is affecting bowl-tie ins all over the place. What does it all mean for the bowl-eligible MAC teams?

The College Football Playoff is looming large over the composition of the lower bowls.
The College Football Playoff is looming large over the composition of the lower bowls.
James H. Jimenez

Last week in our bowl projections. we had Northern Illinois going to the Bahamas and the Chippewas shut out of a bowl appearance. This week looks a little bit different as many upsets happened in the major conferences. Once again, we'll take a look at the conferences and see how the race for a bowl has been afected.

SEC

Alabama took down Mississippi State, pretty much drawing the ire of every casual football fan in the nation, as they pretty much guarantee two SEC West teams in the Playoff this week. Auburn is out of the Playoff hunt after their second straight loss, which means one potential at-large bid. The SEC currently has eight bowl-eligible teams, with five teams one win away. Without those two CFB-eligible teams, that leaves six lower bowl berths opening (before the one-wins,) which is interesting, considering the SEC has 10 (!) tie ins.

ACC

Florida State, man. How do they do it? They once again pulled a win out of their pockets against hated rival Miami (FL) to pretty much assure taking back the #1 spot, albeit with some controversy. The ACC boasts seven bowl-eligible teams, with North Carolina and Virginia Tech one win away, and two teams two wins away. If Florida State remains in the playoffs, that leaves six bowl-eligible teams as of today.

PAC-12

Oregon is still around, ya'll. The Ducks are once again the class of the PAC-12, which fields seven bowl-eligible teams. Oregon and Washington are the only teams from the North Division to be eligible, with literally all teams except Colorado eligible for a bowl in the South. There are three teams one win away (Oregon State, California, and Stanford.) As of now, there are six teams in bowls, as Oregon would be in the CFB.

B1G

CONTROVERSY CONTROVERSY CONTROVERSY! Ohio State held on against gutty Minnesota and keeps making its case to be included in the playoff. Michigan State is back on the winning path, and Wisconsin ran all over the cornfields of Nebraska, while Northwestern still has sign of life, just two wins away from a bowl berth after upsetting Notre Dame. There are nine eligible teams as of now, with Michigan one win away, and Northwestern and Illinois two wins away.

Big XII

TCU and Baylor are neck-and-neck to be the XII rep for the Playoff, but Alabama has made that harder with their win against Mississippi State. Currently, there are not  in our projected Playoff, which means that there are six teams bowl-eligible, with only Oklahoma State realistically on the outside-looking-in at 5-4.

Conference-USA

Marshall gonna Marshall.  LA Tech gonna LA Tech. These two teams carry the mantle for a fairly weak conference, which features Rice and UTEP as their only other eligible teams. It's chaotic for the other potential berths, as three teams find themselves at 5-5 deep in the heart of the conference schedule, including Western Kentucky and the reeling Middle Tennessee State.

American Athletic Conference

Memphis and Cincinnati are in the conference lead, so it's obviously  the middle of basketball season. Wait, it's not? Early AAC favorites East Carolina have lost their last two games, and UCF is sort of coasting along. Those are the only four eligible teams for the conference, with Temple and Houston one win away. USF is two wins away, but probably won't be able to clinch.

Mountain West

Three teams are 5-1 in the MWC, and three teams are 3-3 in-conference. Yay for coincidences! Boise State and Colorado State will be chomping at the bit for a Marshall, as a loss would potentially secure a "Selection Committee Bowl Game". The situation is essentially the same as it was last week, with five eligible teams. Wyoming and San Diego State must win next week in order to be considered for a bowl after suffering losses.

Sun Belt

Four teams are at 6+ wins, but only three can go. Texas State and Appalachian State are both one win away, with App State on a four-game winning streak, while Texas State slipped for a second straight loss. Arkansas State suffered a major upset loss to App State, while UL Lafayette is on fire as usual in the conference season.

Independents

Everyone knows what happened with Notre Dame. (LOL.) That was brutal. BYU and Navy both won, while Army lost. Army is thus eliminated from bowl-eligibility and can play spoiler to Navy in their annual rivalry game in two weeks.

***

So what does this mean for the MAC? Ball State has officially eliminated themselves form bowl contention, while Bowling Green clinched the MAC East, assuring them at least a MAC 1 or 2 tie-in game. Akron has lost four straight games, but still can clinch a bowl if they win out vs. Massachusetts and Kent State. Ohio is also in the running after a throttling of Buffalo. Central, Western, Northern Illinois, and Toledo all control their own destiny, thanks to Northern Illinois stealing a win away from the Rockets. So let's get to it. Once again, here is a casual reminder that I made these projections based on tie-ins, combined with money interests, storyline considerations, and geographical logistics.

Bowl Game MAC Representative Projected Opponent Tie-in
GoDaddy Toledo UL Lafayette MAC 1 vs. Sun Belt 2
Camelia Western Michigan South Alabama MAC 3 vs. Sun Belt 3
Boca Raton Central Michigan Western Kentucky MAC 4/5 vs. C*USA
Popeye's Bahamas Northern Illinois Louisiana Tech MAC vs. C*USA
Famous Idaho Potato Bowling Green Air Force MAC 2 vs. MWC 2-7
Quick Lane Akron* Boston College B1G (MAC backup) vs. ACC (MAC backup)

*-replaces team in primary role

Toledo and Bowling Green are still the favorites to win their divisions, thus placing them as MAC 1 and MAC 2, respectively. The Bahamas Bowl will look for a big name to attract attention, so Northern Illinois is a logical fit as an at-large. Western has the potential to win against Central and make a good case for MAC 3, especially if NIU accepts the Bahamas Bowl bid. Many projections have UAB playing in the Boca Raton Bowl, but I do not have confidence that the Blazers can make it to bowl eligibility, thus setting up a potential Pizza Bowl rematch against Western Kentucky. Akron makes it in thanks to an easy schedule as a potential B1G replacement, especially if Michigan or any of the other close teams cannot attain eligibility. The Zips make it in over Ohio thanks to a tougher schedule and a huge win over Pitt at Pitt.