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MAC Football Bowl Projections, Week 14: BGSU to Mobile, Western Michigan vs MTSU set in stone

The MAC will send all seven of its bowl eligible teams to the post-season. We already know one of those seven match-ups, but how will the rest turn out?

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the possibility remained that there would ultimately be too many bowl-eligible teams to fill the 80 available spots in this year's 40(!) bowl games. At the time, 89 teams had either clinched or were still on the bubble. There is no such conundrum this week. Only four of the 15 bubble teams whose fates were determined last weekend gained bowl eligibility.

As a result, there are only 75 eligible teams with just three left on the bubble. What does that mean? Anywhere from two to five teams with 5-7 records will play in bowl games in 2015. It also means that all seven eligible teams from the MAC will get to play in the post-season. The MAC will fill all six of its current obligations plus one that cannot be filled by another conference.

2915 MAC bowl eligible teams: Toledo (9-2), Bowling Green (9-3), Northern Illinois (8-4), Ohio (8-4), Akron (7-5), Western Michigan (7-5) and Central Michigan (7-5)

You may be asking yourself, "Since 5-7 teams will get to play in bowl games, is there any hope for 5-7 Buffalo to make it as an eighth team from the MAC?" Sadly, the answer is no. In 2012, the NCAA instituted a new policy which uses APR to determine the order in which 5-7 teams are selected for post-season play. Actually, the rule specifically mentions top five APR teams and doesn't spell out much beyond that, but most people believe this is how the NCAA will fix this "problem".

According to the most recent APR numbers, the top five teams (in no particular order) are Kansas State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri and San Jose State. Unless South Alabama (vs Appalachian State) or Georgia State (at Georgia Southern) pull upsets this weekend, these will likely be the last five teams to get bowl spots.

One thing we do know for certain: the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl game. Middle Tennessee State accepted a spot in that game last week, and today, the Western Michigan Broncos filled the other half of that dance card. The Broncos and Blue Raiders will play in Nassau on Christmas Eve at noon on ESPN.

What about the other six? Let's look at those games...

AutoNation Cure Bowl

Game date, time, TV: Dec. 19, 12:00 pm, CBS Sports Network
Game location (debut): Orlando, Fla. (2015)
MAC record: 0-0
Last MAC win: Never
Recent history: First game is in 2015.

Sadly, it does not appear that our previous prediction of a MAC team playing in Detroit's Quick Lane Bowl will pan out, because of the likelihood of Nebraska and Minnesota getting bowl bids. So, the MAC's final bowl team will end up in Orlando in the first bowl game of the season -- and the newest bowl of them all, at that. This could be an intriguing matchup between a Thomas Woodson led Zips team and a South Florida squad that was hot as fire over the last month of the regular season.

Hustle Belt Prediction: Akron Zips vs. South Florida Bulls

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

Game date, time, TV: Dec. 19, 5:30 pm, ESPN
Game location (debut): Montgomery, Ala. (2014)
MAC record: 1-0
Last MAC win: 2014
Recent history: (2014) Bowling Green 33, South Alabama 28

Our prediction for this game does not change from last week. Georgia Southern is likely to be one of just three eligible teams from the Sun Belt. This could also be a landing spot for Arkansas State, since we assume they won't be sent to Mobile for the umpteenth year in a row, but we'll stick with our Eagles pick for now. The Bobcats are a good, marketable team with a well-known head coach, so this should be a good game in a historic stadium.

Hustle Belt Prediction: Ohio Bobcats vs. Georgia Southern Eagles

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Game date, time, TV: Dec. 22, 3:30 pm, ESPN
Game location (debut): Boise, Idaho (1997)
MAC record: 2-4
Last MAC win: 2011
Recent history: (2012) Utah State 41, Toledo 15; (2013) San Diego State 49, Buffalo 24; (2014) Air Force 38, Western Michigan 24

This is the one bowl game for the MAC where it's hardest to predict the teams because, well, who wants to go to Boise three days before Christmas? All the MAC's other destinations are warm-weather. Even though we have Boise penciled in here as the Mountain West rep, we have to assume that even they want to go somewhere else rather than play in their home stadium. CMU has some unfinished business from last year's last-second bowl defeat, and for once, Boise State is actually vulnerable on the blue turf.

Hustle Belt Prediction: Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Boise State Broncos

Boca Raton Bowl

Game date, time, TV: Dec. 22, 7:00 pm, ESPN
Game location (debut): Boca Raton, Fla. (2014)
MAC record: 0-1
Last MAC win: Never
Recent history: (2014) Marshall 52, Northern Illinois 23

This is another game where we'll keep the prediction the same from last week. Memphis fizzled late in the season after an early road win over Bowling Green and a huge victory against Ole Miss, but in their season finale, Paxton Lynch showed everyone what he is capable of with seven first-half touchdown passes in nine completions against SMU. They should face a Toledo team in transition. They've lost their head coach, Matt Campbell, and most of his coaching staff to Iowa State. They also lost a chance to win the MAC when they fell at home on Senior Day to WMU. This could be a fantastic game, but the mindsets of the teams are anyone's guess.

Hustle Belt Prediction: Toledo Rockets vs. Memphis Tigers

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

Game date, time, TV: Dec. 23, 4:30 pm, ESPN
Game location (debut): San Diego, Calif. (2005)
MAC record: 0-2 (both NIU)
Last MAC win: Never
Recent history: (2012) Brigham Young 23, San Diego State 6; (2013) Utah State 21, Northern Illinois 14; (2014) Navy 17, San Diego State 16

Okay, so this is a rematch of two years ago. So what? That was a pretty good game, and it's about time the Huskies got some revenge. You could likely switch the Utah State and Boise State projections here and it wouldn't matter much, but I like the idea of NIU getting their win back here. The Huskies are a well-known MAC commodity and the Poinsettia folks know what they'd be getting, even if it's not quite the same Huskies team as in years past.

Hustle Belt Prediction: Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Utah State Aggies

GoDaddy Bowl

Game date, time, TV: Dec. 23, 8:00 pm, ESPN
Game location (debut): Mobile, Ala. (1999)
MAC record: 9-5
Last MAC win: 2014
Recent history: (2013) Arkansas State 17, Kent State 13; (2014) Arkansas State 23, Ball State 20; (2015) Toledo 63, Arkansas State 44

The GoDaddy Bowl (fomrerly GMAC) has been, by far, the MAC's most successful bowl game. The league is 9-5 in Mobile, including a win by Toledo last year. BGSU has been here twice. Prior to last season, it was the site of their most recent bowl wins (vs Memphis, 2004). It was also the site of their most humiliating bowl defeat, when they fell to Tulsa 63-7 after the 2007 season. It's about time the Falcons go back and make some new memories.

The Sun Belt has sent Arkansas State here for four straight years, so the most likely teams would be either Appalachian State (our pick) or Georgia Southern. Our selection would likely be a very fun, high-scoring game, but we also admit that #FalconFast against the triple option would be fascinating.

Hustle Belt Prediction: Bowling Green Falcons vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

Game date, time, TV: Dec. 24, 12:00 pm, ESPN
Game location (debut): Nassau, Bahamas (2014)
MAC record: 0-1
Last MAC win: Never
Recent history: (2014) Western Kentucky 49, Central Michigan 48

This is the one definitive answer that we have about the bowl season so far. WMU lost two in a row to BGSU and NIU in November but steadied the ship by winning their last game at Toledo. MTSU played third fiddle to Marshall and Western Kentucky in the Conference USA Eastern Division, but they were 6-2 in the conference and 7-5 overall. They actually beat Marshall and lost by a combined six points to Vanderbilt and Illinois. It's hard to believe this could match last year's Bahamas Bowl, but it should be a good game nonetheless.

Hustle Belt Prediction: Western Michigan Broncos vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders