The Pi-Rate Ratings

October 26, 2009

Bowl Projections For October 26, 2009

TCU and Boise State in Hectic Race For BCS Gold


The BCS bowl agreement only awards one guaranteed at-large invitation to a qualifying team from a non-BCS conference.  Two non-BCS teams can be selected for a BCS at-large bowl, but they can turn away a 12-0 team in favor of another team from a BCS conference.  Thus, if Boise State and TCU both finish 12-0, only one of the two will be guaranteed a spot in a BCS Bowl Game.  The other team could and will more than likely lose out to a 10-2 team from the Pac-10, Big 10, Big East, or SEC.


For our weekly Bowl Projections, we are going with TCU to finish a shade higher than Boise State and earn the automatic BCS Bowl bid.  We believe that Penn State, Southern Cal, and Florida will also earn at-large invitations, so Boise State will be excluded from the big bowls.  At 12-0, the Humanitarian won’t be good enough for the Broncos, so for the second season in a row, there will be some back room deals made.  Our bowl projections are the only ones that are factoring this as of now.


New Mexico: Utah vs. Nevada

This would be a great battle between Utah’s strong defense and Nevada’s eye-popping pistol offense.


St. Petersburg: Rutgers vs. Marshall

Mark Snyder was on the hot seat entering this season, but he has the Thundering Herd on track to finish with seven wins.  If Marshall can upset Central Florida this week, they could even jump into the CUSA Championship game.


New Orleans: Troy vs. UTEP

Mike Price has the Miners poised to win the CUSA’s West Division, as they already hold the tiebreaker advantage over Houston and Tulsa.  We expect them to lose in the conference championship game and slip to the Crescent City.


Las Vegas: Boise State vs. Cincinnati

What better place for an arranged marriage in a bowl than sin city?  We believe Boise State will run the table and, at 12-0, lose out in the BCS sweepstakes to a 10-2 team with more ticket-buying and media-garnering clout.  Like last year, the WAC will be shopping to move the Broncos up into a better bowl.  The Pac-10 will fall short by one spot if both Oregon and Southern Cal make BCS bowls and Stanford finishes 5-7. 


We believe Cincinnati will lose to Pittsburgh in the season finale, and the 11-1 Bearcats will also be shunned by the BCS in favor of a 10-2 team.  So, this million dollar payout bowl will set up a great match.


Poinsettia: B Y U vs. Oregon State

Any chance for a big bowl for these teams ended this past Saturday.  BYU’s pasting by TCU and Oregon State’s near miss at USC will move these teams down to lower tiered bowls.


Hawaii: Fresno State vs. Houston

Since Hawaii will not be bowl eligible this season, another WAC team will get the honors.  Fresno State would fit here quite comfortably.  As for Houston, the Cougars might deserve much better, but they still must play at Tulsa and at UCF, and they need UTEP to lose at least once.


Pizza (formerly Motor City): Minnesota vs. Northern Illinois

The Gophers have slipped quite a bit in recent weeks and need to recover just to gain bowl eligibility.  Northern Illinois won’t win the MAC, but we believe the Huskies will be the choice team for this bowl, sending the MAC Champ south to Mobile.


Meineke Car Care: Boston College vs. Connecticut

This would be an excellent regional game between teams that should be playing each other.  Connecticut would be the sixth Big East team to make a bowl, made possible by Cincinnati moving up to a better bowl than what would be available.


Emerald: U C L A vs. Florida State

This would be a decent attraction and a nice rematch of the 2006 game.  UCLA missed out on a bowl last year, and this could be Bobby Bowden’s final game, so it would be interesting.


Music City: South Carolina vs. North Carolina

These two teams played in the regular season last year, and it would be a great rivalry matchup in Nashville.  It’s a border war with two legendary coaches.


Independence: Kentucky vs. Kansas

These two basketball schools with familial ties would give this bowl its best matchup in years.


Eagle Bank: Kent State vs. Central Florida

These are two quasi at-large selections.  It looks like Army will finish 5-7 at best and fail to qualify.  If Army isn’t eligible, this bowl is supposed to take an at-large team from CUSA.  The ACC may not have a ninth team available, and this bowl is supposed to choose an at-large team from the MAC.  Kent State hasn’t been to a bowl since Coach Don James took them to the 1972 Tangerine Bowl (lost to Tampa).


Champ Sports: Georgia Tech vs. Michigan St.

Almost all other prognosticators are picking Georgia Tech to make it to the Orange Bowl.  We have an opposing view right now.  We think Clemson may very well run the table and oppose Tech in the ACC Championship Game.  Having already faced the spread option and actually beating themselves more than losing this game, we see CU getting revenge and plunging the Yellow Jackets to this bowl.


Humanitarian: Idaho vs. Kansas State

We place Idaho here after moving Boise State to a better locale.  The Vandals played here in their only bowl game 11 years ago, edging Southern Miss in a high-scoring affair.  Kansas State is the current leader in the Big 12 North, but with a concluding schedule of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, we see them losing at least twice more.  Since the Big 12 will not produce an at-large BCS participant, we see nine bowl-eligible teams for eight spots.  The Wildcats are the odd team out and will have to go to the field of blue.


Holiday: Oklahoma vs. California

This might be a disappointment game as neither team will believe it a reward to play in this game after both had aspirations of greatness.


Armed Forces: Tulsa vs. Air Force

Tulsa’s high-powered passing game against Air Force’s option offense and strong defense will make this an interesting study in contrasts.  Air Force has been here two consecutive seasons, but for obvious reasons, they belong in this game most years.


Sun: Arizona vs. Texas Tech

This matchup should fill up the Sun Bowl as both teams wouldn’t have all that far to travel.  It would be a fresh pairing.


Texas: Texas A&M vs. Navy

Navy will automatically earn this bowl with a win over Temple this weekend.  Texas A&M joins the bowl talk after their upset over Texas Tech.  This would be an interesting and very high scoring game. Missouri vs. Northwestern

Yes, these two teams played each other in the Alamo Bowl last year, but that game was the most exciting bowl game of all.  It would be a great rematch in a different venue.


Chick-fil-A: Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech

The Volunteers have now played the number one team close twice this season.  If they get by South Carolina this week, then watch out.  They could win out and move up to this game.  Interestingly, when Coach Lane Kiffin’s mentor, Pete Carroll, took over at Southern Cal, the Trojans followed this gameplan exactly, coming on strong to win out and get to seven wins.  Might Tennessee be poised to become the USC of the Southeast?


Outback: Ole Miss vs. Wisconsin

This isn’t the New Year’s Bowl Ole Miss expected to be playing in this year.  They had thoughts of Sugar.  Wisconsin wasn’t picked to play in a New Year’s Bowl at all, so this would be a grand reward for the Badgers, especially since it could be 70 degrees warmer in Tampa than in Madison on January 1.


Capital One: Ohio State vs. L S U

This is a rematch of the 2007-08 BCS Championship Game.  Ohio State would move up to this one if Penn State and Iowa both received BCS Bowl bids, and we think that will happen.


Gator: Notre Dame vs. Miami-FL

It’s been seven years since the Irish played in the Gator Bowl, and if they have eight or nine wins, they will be back in Jacksonville.  Having a former heated rival as an opponent makes this one a must-watch game.


Rose: Oregon vs. Iowa

Oregon has to beat USC in Eugene this weekend, or all bets are off in this one.  If USC wins, then the Trojans will play here and Oregon will be on the BCS bubble with Boise State.  Iowa can lose a game and still secure this bid.  We see them finishing 11-1.  Iowa’s last Rose Bowl trip was 19 years ago, while Oregon hasn’t been to Pasadena in 15 years.


Sugar: Florida vs. Pittsburgh

This one may look odd to you, but here’s how we decided on this pairing.  As of today, we believe Alabama would beat Florida in the SEC Championship Game and Pittsburgh would edge Cincinnati in their final regular season game.  The Sugar Bowl would get first choice to pick a replacement when Alabama earned the Top Seed.  The Sugar Bowl would then have to wait while the Fiesta and Orange Bowls selected ahead of them.  The Panthers would be what was left.


International: West Virginia vs. Temple

Five years ago, this would have been a conference game.  Temple is close to becoming bowl eligible.  The Owls last played in a bowl in 1979, when Mark Bright and Kevin Duckett ran all over California in the now defunct Garden State Bowl.


Cotton: Oklahoma State vs. Arkansas

The Cotton Bowl officials could jump over the Cowboys in favor of their arch-rival, but OSU should have at least one more win.  Arkansas is always a great draw for this bowl, and we see them earning this spot over Ole Miss. South Florida vs. Auburn

Auburn missed out on a bowl last year, and the Tigers have never played in this Birmingham bowl.  This bowl hasn’t drawn well, so this might be a great choice.


Liberty: Georgia vs. Southern Miss

It may be a slight stretch, but we believe Southern Miss will edge East Carolina and win the CUSA East title (forcing ECU to finish 6-6 and miss out on a bowl).  We then believe they will beat UTEP and earn this automatic bid.


Georgia hasn’t played in the Liberty Bowl since 1987, so this would be a decent location for the finish to a rebuilding year.


Alamo: Michigan vs. Nebraska

This was an excellent Alamo Bowl game four years ago, and we see it as a great repeat this year.  The Wolverines high-flying offense against the Cornhuskers’ Black Shirt defense would be a great draw.


Fiesta: Southern Cal vs. T C U

With Texas earning the number two ranking, the Fiesta Bowl would get the second at-large pick.  We see them taking the Trojans.  Then, after the Orange Bowl chose their at-large selection, this bowl would grab TCU over Pittsburgh.  It would be an interesting game and give the Horned Frogs a chance to show they belong among the nation’s elite for the first time since the Jim Swink days in the mid 1950’s.


Orange: Clemson vs. Penn State

Clemson has Coastal Carolina, Florida State, North Carolina State, Virginia, and South Carolina remaining on their schedule, and we see no impediment between the Tigers and the Atlantic Division title.  If they face Georgia Tech in a rematch, we believe they will win and win handily.  That would earn them an automatic trip to Miami.  Penn State may be the controversial choice if they are 10-2 and Boise State is 12-0 and Cincinnati 11-1, but money matters more to the bowl games.


G M A C: Central Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee

Central Michigan will win the MAC Championship, but since the Chippewas played in Detroit last year, we think they will be sent to Mobile this year.  We don’t see a ninth ACC team qualifying, and Middle Tennessee will earn this bowl over a half dozen 6-6 teams from bigger conferences.


National Championship Game: Alabama vs. Texas

These teams have faced off in several five memorable bowl games in the past.  Texas won four and the other ended in a tie.  Alabama was supposed to win all five times.  This will be an excellent game with twists and turns, and it could pit the top two vote-getters in the Heisman Trophy race as well.

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