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Bowl Projections - The December Bowls
Virginia Tech RB David Wilson
Virginia Tech RB David Wilson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 18, 2011


Preview 2011 - The preseason look and projections for the 2010-2011 bowl matchups with all the December games.


Preview 2011 

Bowl Projections, Dec. Games


- Part Two (January games ncluding the BCS) 

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First, this is a nearly-impossible puzzle to put together correctly in the first week of December with all the inside information possible, much less now. There will be changes in the bowl tie-ins, the seedings, and the conference pecking order before the dust settles at the end of the season, but these are close. Some of the bowls aren't even sure which teams from which conferences will be available to them, so while a slot might make sense, things get out of whack when bowls jump the gun with invites or go with geographical matchups over good football pairings. The goal here is to attempt to account for the self-interests of the bowls that'll want to sell tickets and generate publicity.

Second, remember that schedules mean everything. Some teams might be better than others but are predicted to go to lesser bowl games because their records might not be as strong as other possible choices. The best educated guess is taken at every turn.

Third, not everyone will get the call. There are only so many available slots, so some worthy teams, especially from the Big 12 and Big East, might get shut out due to a lack of at-large bids available. 

Finally, don't yell at us if you don't like where your team is predicted to go. This will all likely change this before the season starts and will be updated every week throughout the year. If it looks like some team that we have playing in December looks like a world-beater, it'll obviously be predicted to go to another bowl as the season goes on.

A few rules going forward.
1) The BCS games that lose their natural tie-ins get the first choices of at-large teams, and after that it goes Fiesta, Sugar, Orange in the selection process.
2) Notre Dame will have an automatic berth if it is in the top eight of the final BCS Standings and can be selected as an at-large bid if it finishes in the top 14.
3) Some bowls ignore the final standings as far as the seedings and pairings. Again, geography is a big deal.
4) Here's the deal with the traditional New Year's Day bowls. If the NFL is back and rolling, it'll have Sunday, January 1st to itself, and it'll have Monday night, the 2nd, for Monday Night Football coming after the Rose Bowl. If the NFL is back, then the Sugar Bowl moves to the 3rd, the Orange the 4th, and the Fiesta the 5th. If the NFL is still locked out, then the Sugar Bowl is on the 2nd after the Rose, the Orange is on the 3rd, and the Fiesta is on the 4th.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
December 17, 2011 Albuquerque, NM, 2 pm ESPN
Mountain West No. 5 vs. WAC 
Way Too Early Projection: Colorado State vs. Arizona*
Top Three Other Options: 1) Fresno State, 2) Louisiana Tech, 3) San Diego State

WHY? The pecking order in the Mountain West should be pretty easy, and assuming the TCU vs. Boise State winner ends up getting a BCS bid, then the spot could be tough to fill. The WAC will have a tough time finding enough bowl eligible teams, especially considering Fresno State's schedule. Assuming there won't be any WAC teams available, the bowl will find a way to take the most attractive Pac-12 team still alive.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl  
December 17, 2011  Boise, ID, 5:30 ESPN
WAC No.1 or No. 2 vs. MAC No. 3
Way Too Early Projection: Nevada vs. Toledo
Top Three Other Options: 1) Louisiana Tech, 2) Western Michigan, 3) Fresno State

WHY? Hawaii is locked into the Hawaii Bowl, but the big key will how impressive Nevada is. If it's half as interesting as it was last year, it'll probably be off to the Poinsettia Bowl and Louisiana Tech will be here. Take a pick of MAC teams from Western Michigan to Northern Illinois to Temple, but Toledo will be the fun and exciting team with the explosive offense to make this a fun game.

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl  
December 17, 2011 New Orleans, LA, 9:00 pm, ESPN
Payout: $1 million
Sun Belt No. 1 vs. C-USA No. 5
Way Too Early Projection: Troy vs. UCF
Top Three Other Options: 1) FIU, 2) Marshall, 3) Arkansas State

WHY? The Sun Belt should be wild and crazy, but it'll likely come down to the Troy vs. FIU winner. Several Conference USA teams will be in the running for this bowl, but SMU will likely stay in Texas somewhere and Southern Miss will probably get a stronger bowl bid.
 
Beef O’Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl 
December 20, 2011 St. Petersburg, FL, 8:00 pm, ESPN
Payout: $1 million
Big East No. 5 vs. C-USA No. 2
Way Too Early Projection: South Florida vs. Southern Miss
Top Three Other Options: 1) Louisville, 2) UCF, 3) Cincinnati

WHY? The bowl will want someone from Florida, and while UCF would be a thought, USF would be better. If Houston can escape one of the Texas bowls, it would be a thrilling foe for the Big East opponent. USF might be too good for this bowl slot, but it would be a good fit to stay close to home.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
December 21, 2011 San Diego, CA, 8:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $1 million
Mountain West No. 2 vs. WAC
Way Too Early Projection: Air Force vs. Louisiana Tech 
Top Three Other Options: 1) TCU, 2) Boise State, 3) Nevada

WHY? Assuming the TCU vs. Boise State winner is in the BCS, then Air Force should be a lock here. Nevada would be the sexier choice, but Louisiana Tech should end up with one of the WAC's few openings here or in the Humanitarian Bowl.

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl
December 22, 2011  Las Vegas, NV, 8:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $2.2 million
Mountain West No. 1 vs. Pac-12 No. 5
Way Too Early Projection: TCU vs. Utah
 
Top Three Other Options: 1) Boise State, 2) Oregon State, 3) Air Force
 
WHY? The TCU vs. Boise State loser will go here, unless Air Force steps up and shocks the Mountain West world. Utah would go back to its Mountain West roots to face its old arch-nemesis, but several Pac-12 teams from Stanford to Ca to Oregon State could certainly go here.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
December 24, 2011 Honolulu, HI, 8:00 pm ESPN
Payout: TBA C-USA No. 6 vs. WAC (Hawaii, if eligible)
Way Too Early Projection: East Carolina vs. Hawaii
Top Three Other Options: 1) UCF, 2) Houston, 3) Marshall

WHY? Hawaii is a lock, and then it comes down to who gets to make the long trip. Houston and Case Keenum would mean a fun day of over 700 combined passing yards, but UCF, Southern Miss, and East Carolina could all be in the hunt for the sweet vacation. ECU and USM would bring the offense, too.
 
Advocare V100 Independence Bowl 
December 26, 2011  Shreveport, LA, 5:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $2.3 million
Mountain West No. 3 vs. ACC No. 7
Way Too Early Projection: San Diego State vs. Georgia Tech
Top Three Other Options: 1) Boston College, 2) Miami, 3) Air Force

WHY? Take a pick of any one of about four ACC teams and it'll have a good chance of being the right one. The San Diego State vs. Air Force winner will be here.
 
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl 
December 27, 2011  Detroit, MI, 4:30 pm ESPN
MAC No. 1 vs. Big Ten No. 8 (or Sun Belt if no Big Ten)
Way Too Early Projection: Western Michigan vs. Northwestern
Top Three Other Options: 1) Toledo, 2) Northern Illinois, 3) Arkansas State

WHY? The bowl had a thriller last year, but after hosting Toledo, it'll want a Michigan team from the MAC. FIU was here last year, and it'll be the best option if there aren't any Big Ten teams available. Arkansas State will be in the mix.

Belk Bowl 
December 27, 2011  Charlotte, NC, 8:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $3.4 million
Big East No. 3 vs. ACC No. 4  
Way Too Early Projection: Pitt vs. Miami
Top Three Other Options: 1) North Carolina, 2) NC State, 3) South Florida

WHY? North Carolina and NC State are always going to be in the discussions for the home crowd, and while Miami won't travel, it'll bring a big name - IF, and it's a big if, it's still eligible to go bowling. South Florida might be here if it doesn't stay home in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
 
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
December 28, 2011  Washington, DC, 4:30 pm ESPN
Payout: $1.725 million
ACC No. 8 vs. Navy (or C-USA if Navy not eligible)
Way Too Early Projection: NC State vs. Navy
Top Three Other Options: 1) Georgia Tech, 2) Virginia, 3) Boston College

WHY? Navy is a given, but it'll struggle this year a bit to get bowl eligible. Several ACC teams will be in the hunt with Georgia Tech, Virginia, and Boston College all in the mix.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl 
December 28, 2011 San Diego, CA, 8:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $4.3 million
Big 12 No. 5 vs. Pac-12 No. 3
Way Too Early Projection: Texas Tech vs. Stanford
Top Three Other Options: 1) Texas A&M, 2) Michigan State, 3) Iowa

WHY? The Holiday Bowl has the prestige, but the Big 12 will want to be in as many January bowls as possible. Texas A&M, Missouri, and Texas are all going to be options, while the bowl would love to take UCLA over Stanford, if possible, for the fans. Utah and Arizona State will be in the hunt.

Champs Sports Bowl
December 29, 2011 Orlando, FL, 5:30 pm ESPN
Payout: $4.65 million
ACC No. 3 vs. Big East No. 2  
Way Too Early Projection: North Carolina vs. Notre Dame
Top Three Other Options: 1) Florida State, 2)  South Florida, 3) Miami

WHY? Notre Dame can be in this bowl once in the four year contract, and now it's time. The Irish will be this close to getting into the BCS, but will just miss out. North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, and Miami will be the top teams on the board if North Carolina doesn't take it with a strong finish.

Valero Alamo Bowl
December 29, 2011 San Antonio, TX, 9:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $6.35 million
Big 12 No. 2 or 3 vs. Pac-12 No. 2
Way Too Early Projection: Texas A&M vs. Arizona State
Top Three Other Options: 1) Oklahoma State, 2) Stanford, 3) Utah

WHY? The geography works out well, and while the bowl would like Texas, A&M is hardly a consolation prize. Arizona State, Stanford, and Cal are the three most likely choice for a bowl that got a dud last year out of Arizona.

Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl
December 30, 2011 Fort Worth, TX, 12:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $1.2 million
C-USA No. 3 vs. BYU (or Mountain West if BYU not eligible)
Way Too Early Projection: Houston vs. BYU
Top Three Other Options: 1) Southern Miss, 2) UCF, 3) Tulsa

WHY? BYU is a wanted team, and the Armed Forces Bowl gets it this year. Houston is a natural to be relatively close to home for a Cougars vs. Cougars battle, but Tulsa, Southern Miss or UCF could easily end up getting the bid.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
December 30, 2011 Bronx, NY, 3:20 pm ESPN
Payout: $3.6 million
Big East No. 4 vs. Big 12 No. 6
Way Too Early Projection: Syracuse vs. Virginia*
Top Three Other Options: 1) Rutgers, 2) Notre Dame, 3) Texas Tech

WHY? Two big questions. 1) Will the Big 12, now with just ten teams, have a team available, and 2) will there be another mega-snow storm that keeps the fans away? Syracuse beat Kansas State in a thriller last year, but Rutgers could be in the hunt. Also, don't rule out Notre Dame, who might be here if it has a rough season. 

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
December 30, 2011   Nashville, TN, 6:40 pm ESPN
Payout: $3.675
ACC No. 6 vs. SEC No. 7
Way Too Early Projection: Boston College vs. South Carolina
Top Three Other Options: 1) Georgia Tech, 2) NC State, 3) Tennessee

WHY? A whale of a game last year when North Carolina beat Tennessee in a thriller, the bowl would love to get the Vols again. The South Caroline-Georgia loser would fill the house, too, while Miami and NC State  would be interesting choices if Boston College doesn't get the bid.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
December 30, 2011 San Francisco, CA, 3:30 pm ESPN
Payout: $1.675 million
Pac-12 No. 6 vs. Army (WAC if Army not available) 
Way Too Early Projection: UCLA vs. Army
Top Three Other Options: 1) California, 2) Stanford, 3) Utah

WHY? Army won't just be bowl eligible; it'll be decent. The bowl would love to grab Cal or Stanford, and might end up doing it, but UCLA would bring a decent fan base, too.

Insight Bowl  
December 30, 2011 Tempe, AZ, 10:00 pm
Payout: $6.7 million
Big Ten No. 4 or 5 vs. Big 12 No. 4
Way Too Early Projection: Iowa vs. Missouri
Top Three Other Options: 1) Michigan, 2) Texas A&M, 3) Texas

WHY? Let's try this again. The two teams put on a great show in last year's Insight Bowl, with Iowa picking off the Tigers for the late win. Every bowl wants Iowa and its fans, and Mizzou will put its share of butts in the seats.

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
December 31, 2011 Houston, TX, 12:00 pm ESPN
Payout: $3.4 million
Big Ten No. 6 vs. Big 12 No. 6
Way Too Early Projection: Penn State vs. Oregon State*
Top Three Other Options: 1) Michigan, 2) Michigan State, 3) Texas Tech

WHY? Penn State will be decent, but it'll struggle a bit through a rough schedule. This might be seen as a booby prize bowl game, but it would be ultra-competitive. With no Big 12 team projected to be here, even though Texas Tech could get the call in what used to be called the Texas Bowl, the game will likely take the best at-large team available.

Hyundai Sun Bowl  
December 31, 2011  El Paso, TX, 2:00 pm CBS
Payout: $4 million
ACC No. 4 vs. Pac-12 No. 4
Way Too Early Projection: Clemson vs. California
Top Three Other Options: 1) North Carolina, 2) Miami, 3) Stanford

WHY? It would be entertaining if its Clemson vs. Cal. Stanford, Utah, and Arizona State could all be mentioned as a possible team from the Pac-12, while Florida State, Virginia Tech, Miami, and North Carolina would all come up with good matchups. The Sun Bowl is almost always decent.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
December 31, 2011  Memphis, TN, 3:30 pm ABC 
C-USA No. 1 vs. SEC No. 6 or No. 7 (Big East if no SEC team)
Way Too Early Projection: Tulsa vs. Tennessee
Top Three Other Options: 1) Houston, 2) Southern Miss, 3) Georgia

WHY? Houston, Southern Miss, UCF, East Carolina, SMU, and Tulsa are all going to be in the hunt for the Conference USA title. Tennessee would be a dream to fill the Memphis house, but the Georgia/South Carolina loser and Mississippi State should be there for the taking, too.

Chick-fil-A Bowl
December 31, 2011 Atlanta, GA, 7:30 pm ESPN
Payout: $6.9 million
ACC No. 2 vs. SEC No. 3, 4 or 5
Way Too Early Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Georgia
Top Three Other Options: 1) North Carolina, 2) Florida State, 3) South Carolina

WHY? Always one of the more interesting matchups, North Carolina, Florida State, or Clemson could end up here. The bowl loves it when Georgia is in, and it'll likely get the loser of the early game between the Dawgs and South Carolina.

- Part Two (including the BCS)