Preview 2012 - Preseason Bowl Picks
TCU QB Casey Pachall
TCU QB Casey Pachall
Posted Jul 11, 2012

Taking geography, common sense, and the tie-ins into account, here's one likely scenario for how the 2012-2013 bowl season might look.

Preview 2012 

Preseason Bowl Picks

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Preseason Bowl Projections
- Part One - The December bowls
- Part Two - The rest of the non-BCS games
- Part Three - The BCS bowls  

Welcome to the always wacky exercise of trying to put together the bowl puzzle well before the season even starts. There's no need to play the regular season; this is what will happen.

However, there are a few ground rules before diving into the fun.

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 - good luck figuring out Notre Dame's situation - the seedings and the conference pecking order before the dust settles at the end of the season. The idea is to get it close to the pin.

Thethe bowl schedule is now set, but that doesn't mean that all the bowls follow he rules, 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 lower leagues, 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 more things.

1) The BCS games that lose their natural tie-ins to the BCS championship will 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 with 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) Ohio State and North Carolina aren't allowed to go to a bowl game, They were naughty.

And away we go. Happy bowling.

Gildan New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM University Stadium
Dec. 15, 1:00 pm, ESPN
Pac-12 No. 7 vs. Mountain West No. 4 or 5
Preseason Call: Arizona vs. Fresno State
Top Three Other Options: 1) Washington, 2) San Diego State, 3) Arizona State

WHY? The bowl would love to take Arizona or Arizona State, but it's probably going to come down to the Arizona-Washington winner in late October. Rich Rodriguez should be just enough to barely get the Cats to six wins. Fresno State in the first year under new head coach Tim DeRuyter should be just good enough to sneak into the Mountain West's final bowl slot.

Famous Idaho Potato
Boise, ID Bronco Stadium,
Dec. 15, 4:30 pm, ESPN
WAC vs. MAC No. 3
Preseason Call: Louisiana Tech vs. Northern Illinois
Top Three Other Options: 1) Toledo, 2) Western Michigan, 3) Ohio

WHY? The gutted WAC might only have one bowl eligible team. Louisiana Tech might want to make a deal to stay closer to home, but it might not have a choice. The MAC opponents is a pure guess with Ohio, Western Michigan, Toledo, Bowling Green and Northern Illinois all in the mix.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia
San Diego, CA Qualcomm Stadium
Dec. 20, 8:00 pm, ESPN
BYU vs. MWC No. 2
Preseason Call: BYU vs. Nevada
Top Three Other Options: 1) San Diego State, 2) Air Force, 3) Fresno State

WHY? BYU doesn't exactly have a slew of options either going to the BCS or going to San Diego, and it's not good enough to get into the BCS. The bowl would love to have San Diego State, but it has a tie-in with the No. 2 team in the conference meaning the Boise State-Nevada loser will likely be here.

Beef O' Brady's St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, FL Tropicana Field
Dec. 21, 7:30 pm, ESPN
C-USA vs. Big East No. 6
Preseason Call: East Carolina vs. Syracuse
Top Three Other Options: 1) South Florida, 2) FIU, 3) Southern Miss

WHY? In a perfect world the bowl would come up with a South Florida vs. FIU in-state showdown, even though the Golden Panthers are in the Sun Belt, but both teams will likely be off to bigger and better bowls. Syracuse might not be an awful draw for the area and East Carolina travels just well enough to put a few live bodies in the stands.

R+L Carriers New Orleans
New Orleans, LA Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Dec. 22, 12:00, ESPN
C-USA vs. Sun Belt No. 1
Preseason Call: Tulsa vs. FIU
Top Three Other Options: 1) Arkansas State, 2) Louisiana-Lafayette, 3) East Carolina

WHY? Assume that most of the top Conference USA options like SMU and Houston will stay closer to home in the league's Texas-based bowls. Southern Miss would be a nice fit for a second straight year, but it could be off to the Liberty. The bowl would love to get Louisiana-Lafayette back for another turn, but Florida International should be the class of the Sun Belt. Arkansas State could easily be here, too.

MAACO Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV Sam Boyd Stadium
Dec. 22, 3:30 pm, ESPN
Pac-12 No. 5 vs. MWC No. 1
Preseason Call: Arizona State vs. Boise State
Top Three Other Options: 1) UCLA, 2) Washington, 3) Utah

WHY? Throw a dart at a board of Pac-12 teams and you'll have a good chance of getting the right pick here. UCLA, California, Utah, Washington and Arizona State will all be in the running to face a Boise State team that will be the class of the conference. However, don't sleep on Nevada, who gets the Broncos at home to close out the regular season.

Sheraton Hawaii
Honolulu, HI Aloha Stadium
Dec. 24, 8:00 pm, ESPN
Mountain West vs. C-USA
Preseason Call: Hawaii vs. Marshall
Top Three Other Options: 1) East Carolina, 2) Fresno State, 3) Nevada

WHY? The bowl covered its bases by making sure Hawaii was still in the picture after moving to the Mountain West. In a perfect world, June Jones would return home with SMU to face the Warriors, but his team is too good to move away from one of the top Conference USA bowl tie-ins. It will be a fight for Hawaii to get bowl eligible, and if it can't make it happen the bowl will likely go for San Diego State or Fresno State.

Little Caesars Pizza
Detroit, MI Ford Field
Dec. 26, 7:30 pm, ESPN
Big Ten No. 8 vs. MAC No. 2
Preseason Call: Arkansas State*  vs. Ohio
Top Three Other Options: 1) Northwestern, 2) Western Michigan, 3) Toledo

WHY? The bowl would love nothing more than to keep the Broncos close to home. However, WMU might end up winning the MAC and going off to the Bowl unless a deal can be worked out. Ohio is used to making the trip from its time in MAC title games and it wouldn't be a bad option. Toledo would also be a nice fit for the MAC, while Northwestern might get the Big Ten's bid. The problem, though, will be the loss of Penn State in the bowl picture. There probably won't be any Big Ten teams available.

Washington, DC RFK Stadium
Dec. 27, 3:00 pm, ESPN
Army vs. ACC No. 8
Preseason Call: Army vs. Notre Dame*
Top Three Other Options: 1) Wake Forest, 2) Miami, 3) Maryland

WHY? With North Carolina not eligible to go bowling, the ACC will struggle to get seven teams into bowl games much less eight. Notre Dame can't go back to the Champs Sports Bowl - now the Russell Athletic Bowl - after going last season, and it might have a hard time finding a bowl home and will have to get in where it can. If Army manages to get to six wins it'll be by the skin of its teeth.

Charlotte, NC Bank of America Stadium
Dec. 27, 6:30 pm, ESPN
ACC No. 5 vs. Big East No. 3
Preseason Call: NC State vs. Cincinnati
Top Three Other Options: 1) Pitt, 2) Louisville, 3) Rutgers

WHY? The ACC has to stick to its slots, but the Belk might make a big push to make sure NC State sticks in-state. If it's not the Wolfpack, Virginia and Georgia Tech wouldn't be bad options. Spin the wheel among the better Big East teams and you might have the right one with at least four teams in the mix.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday
San Diego, CA Qualcomm Stadium
Dec. 27, 9:45 pm, ESPN
Pac-12 No. 3 vs. Big 12 No. 5
Preseason Call: Utah vs. TCU
Top Three Other Options: 1) California, 2) West Virginia, 3) Kansas State

WHY? Don't sleep on a Utah team that might be just good enough to shock USC and win the South, however even if it doesn't win the division it might be just strong enough to be in the chase to get to a good bowl. TCU, West Virginia and Kansas State will all likely finish just outside of the top three in the Big 12 with TCU a good option to face its former Mountain West rival.

Preseason Bowl Projections
- Part One - The December bowls
- Part Two - The rest of the non-BCS games
- Part Three - The BCS bowls