For October 21, 2014
Note: You can find our award-winning ratings at http://www.piratings.webs.com
You can find numerous bowl projection sights on the Internet, so we see no reason to just put forth our projections like 100 others. The PiRate Ratings have always been a little different than other ratings. Our computer ratings use a system other than the actual scores of the games, using unique statistical data to come up with a truer score of every game before adjusting the ratings. Likewise, our bowl projections do not use the same criteria as other projectors.
We try to use our ratings to look forward and determine what the standings will look like on December 7. Then, we try to surmise the “political” nature of the bowls. For instance, you know that the ACC bowls would prefer to invite anybody other than Miami if they have a chance. When you cannot put 5,000 fans in your stadium for a home game against Cincinnati, another likely bowl team, it is not going to give a bowl like the Sun Bowl much faith that the Hurricanes will bring 20,000 fans to El Paso. Likewise, a 10-2 Auburn team is going to garner one of the big Bowl games not in the playoffs (Fiesta, Orange, Peach, or Cotton this year) before a 10-2 Washington team.
What we will do here is cover the bowls by conference. If you want to see the projections like 100 other sites, go to our website at the link below.
Here is where we see the conferences and bowl possibilities for October 21, 2014.
Note: An Asterisk (*) means this is an at-large selection because the conference cannot meet its bowl tie-in obligation due to lack of bowl eligible team.
The Playoffs as we see it today
Sugar Bowl: #1 Ole Miss vs. #4 Ohio St.
Rose Bowl: #2 Florida St. vs. #3 Alabama
Group of 5 Conferences
American Athletic Conference
East Carolina controls its own destiny to become the first Group of 5 conference member to play in one of the Four New Year’s Eve/Day Big Bowls. At 11-1, the Pirates would top a 13-0 Marshall team. ECU has three potential possible upset games yet to play, but the Pirates are clearly better than anybody left on their schedule. Those three tough games to come are against Temple in Philadelphia on November 1; at Cincinnati on Thursday night, November 13; and a Thursday night regular season finale at home against Central Florida.
Central Florida should be on a roll when the Knights roll into Greenville for that big December 4 game. UCF should win nine games, and the Knights figure to be the second bowl selection out of the AAC.
Houston started the season with some trouble, but the Cougars have begun to play their best football of the season in the last few weeks. UH does not face ECU, so chances are slim that Coach Tony Levine’s team can sneak up and take the conference crown.
Cincinnati, Memphis, and Temple all should be bowl eligible, and there will be enough conference bids for all three.
1. Peach Bowl: East Carolina (vs. Notre Dame)
2. Birmingham Bowl: Memphis (vs. Kentucky)
3. St. Petersburg Bowl: Central Florida (vs. Miami)
4. Miami Beach Bowl: Cincinnati (vs. BYU)
5. Military Bowl: Temple (vs. Virginia)
6. Armed Forces Bowl: Houston (vs. Rutgers)
Marshall has a clear path to a 13-0 season, but the Thundering Herd still must get past UAB on the road and a possible tough Louisiana Tech team in the C-USA Championship Game. Marshall needs an ECU loss to occur in order to sneak into a possible Peach Bowl invitation.
Louisiana Tech appears to be the class of the West Division, but Bulldogs are no cinch with games still remaining against UAB on the road and Rice at home.
Middle Tennessee is on pace to win seven games and a mild upset over a swooning BYU Cougars team could lift that number to eight and make the Blue Raiders the third choice in the conference bowl pecking order.
The rest of the bowl invitations will go out to the three teams that can get to 6-6. As of today, we predict Rice, UAB, and Florida Atlantic will be those three teams. Failure to get three to 6-6 will help the Sunbelt or MAC.
1. Hawaii Bowl: Marshall (vs. Utah St.)
2. Bahamas Bowl: Louisiana Tech (vs. Toledo)
3. Boca Raton Bowl: Middle Tennessee (vs. Northern Illinois)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Rice (vs. Air Force)
5. Heart of Dallas Bowl: U A B (vs. Arkansas St. *)
6. Independence Bowl: Florida Atlantic * (vs. Georgia Tech)
Toledo appears to be the top team at this point, but the Rockets are not a for-sure selection to win the MAC Championship, as there is some parity in the league this year.
Because there is not dominant team like an undefeated Northern Illinois team, there will definitely be many more bowl eligible teams than bowl spots. We foresee eight bowl eligible MAC teams with three not receiving bowl bids.
Politics and financial priorities will allow a team like Ohio to beat out Buffalo or Central Michigan if they all finish 7-5. Choosing between Ohio and Bowling Green will be tough, but we will take the Bobcats.
1. Bahamas Bowl: Toledo (vs. Louisiana Tech)
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Northern Illinois (vs. Middle Tennessee)
3. Idaho Potato Bowl: Akron (vs. Nevada)
4. Camellia Bowl: Western Michigan (vs. South Alabama)
5. Go Daddy Bowl: Ohio U (vs. Georgia Southern)
Mountain West Conference
Boise State’s upset loss to Air Force has kept the Broncos down at number three or four in the Group of 5 teams vying for the New Year’s Eve/Day bowl bid. The Broncos only other loss it to Ole Miss, which looks a lot better now than it did on August 28. BSU’s only bump in the road ahead is a home finale against Utah State on November 29.
Utah State, Colorado State, and Air Force are certainly going bowling from the Mountain Division. In the West Division, it looks like three teams could finish tied at 5-3. One of the three, Fresno State as of this week, is likely not to receive a bowl bid.
1. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise St. (vs. Stanford)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Colorado St. (vs. Oregon St. *)
3. Hawaii Bowl: Utah St. (vs. Marshall)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Air Force (vs. Rice)
5. New Orleans Bowl: San Diego St. (vs. Louisiana-Lafayette)
6. Idaho Potato Bowl: Nevada (vs. Akron)
This is the only Group of Five conference with zero chance of having a team play in a New Year’s Eve/Day bowl. Georgia Southern had their chances, blowing second half leads to North Carolina State and Georgia Tech. The Eagles appear to be the class of the league this year, with Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State just behind. GSU does not play either team this year and should run the table in league play.
UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State should receive some form of bowl invitation, be it from a conference tie-in or as an at-large. (Note—this was written before these two teams faced off Tuesday night.)
South Alabama may finish a game or even two behind Louisiana-Monroe and may finished tied with Texas State, but the Jaguars figure to earn the Camellia Bowl bid just up the road in Montgomery with six or more wins.
Texas State could luck into an at-large bowl invitation, since it appears there will be some Lone Star State bowl games needing an at-large team.
1. Go Daddy Bowl: Georgia Southern (vs. Ohio U)
2. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (vs. San Diego St.)
3. Camellia Bowl: South Alabama (vs. Western Michigan)
4. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Arkansas St. * (vs. U A B)
5. Texas Bowl: Texas St. * (vs. Texas A&M)
For Notre Dame, please see the Atlantic Coast Conference
The Army artillery has come up a mile short of its target this year, so the Black Knights will once again fail to achieve bowl eligibility. The Navy’s ship is taking on water quickly and appears headed to the bottom of the ocean floor. Look for the Armed Forces and Poinsettia Bowls to look elsewhere.
BYU is sinking in quicksand since the loss of their star quarterback, but the Cougars already had enough wins in the bank to see bowl eligibility.
1. Miami Beach Bowl: B Y U (vs. Cincinnati)
Power 5 Conferences
Atlantic Coast Conference (& Notre Dame)
Florida State has two tiny hurdles left to cross before waltzing into the playoffs. The Seminoles play at Louisville a week from Thursday, and they will more than likely face Duke in the ACC Championship Game. FSU has the best chance of any FBS team of running the table this season.
Notre Dame might lose to USC, but we believe the Fighting Irish still earn a New Year’s Eve/Day bowl bid at 10-2. Clemson will not be so lucky if the Irish end up 10-2, for a 10-2 Tiger team would not get into one of the Big Six bowls.
Duke could repeat as Coastal Division champions, but the Blue Devils still appear to be a two to three touchdown underdog to FSU. Any of the six Coastal teams could finish bowl eligible, and we believe six of the seven will. The bowl representatives hope the one that doesn’t is Miami, but the Hurricanes have the look of a 6-6 team. This week, we select North Carolina to finish 5-7.
1. Rose Bowl: Florida St. (vs. Alabama)
2. Peach Bowl: Notre Dame (vs. East Carolina)
3. Russell Athletic Bowl: Duke (vs. Kansas St.)
4. Capital One Bowl ^: Clemson (vs. Mississippi St.)
5. Gator Bowl: Louisville (vs. South Carolina)
6. Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech (vs. Tennessee)
7. Sun Bowl: Pittsburgh (vs. Arizona St.)
8. Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College (vs. Penn St.)
9. Military Bowl: Virginia (vs. Temple)
10. Independence Bowl: Georgia Tech (vs. Florida Atlantic *)
11. Quick Lane Bowl: North Carolina St. (vs. Maryland)
12. St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami (vs. Central Florida
^: If a Big Ten team plays in the Orange Bowl as the SEC opponent, the Capital One Bowl can issue a bid to an ACC Team
Big Ten Conference
Michigan State and Ohio State are headed to a major clash in East Lansing on November 8, and the winner can back into a playoff spot if they win out and finish 12-1. Nebraska has a minor chance to sneak in if the Cornhuskers run the table and beat the Michigan State-Ohio State winner in the conference title game.
We have removed one team from the total here this week, as we now believe that Northwestern could lose to Purdue, and neither team will win six games. Indiana and Illinois appear to have too much left to do to get to six wins. Michigan is not even among the possibilities.
1. Sugar Bowl: Ohio St. (vs. Ole Miss)
2. Orange Bowl: Michigan St. (vs. Georgia)
3. Outback Bowl: Nebraska (vs. Auburn)
4. Holiday Bowl: Wisconsin (vs. Arizona)
5. Music City Bowl: Minnesota (vs. L S U)
6. San Francisco Bowl: Iowa (vs. U C L A)
7. Pinstripe Bowl: Penn State (vs. Boston College)
8. Quick Lane Bowl: Maryland (vs. North Carolina St.)
9. Armed Forces Bowl: Rutgers (vs. Houston)
Big 12 Conference
That hissing sound you heard the last two weeks was the sound of the Big 12 Conference balloon losing all its playoff air. TCU fell out of the picture when they blew a 21-point lead to Baylor. Then Baylor and Oklahoma fell out of the race with bad losses last week.
Kansas State could sneak into the picture if the Wildcats run the table, beating TCU and Baylor, both on the road. We don’t see that happening.
Because Texas and Texas Tech do not have favorable remaining schedules and appear to be headed to losing seasons, the Big 12 will only have six bowl eligible teams, and even though none will make the playoffs, two should earn Big Six bowl bids. That will leave two bowls Texas and Armed Forces) looking for at-large invitees.
1. Fiesta Bowl: T C U (vs. U S C)
2. Cotton Bowl: Baylor (vs. Oregon)
3. Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma (vs. Washington)
4. Russell Athletic Bowl: Kansas St. (vs. Duke)
5. Liberty Bowl: West Virginia (vs. Missouri)
6. Cactus Bowl: Oklahoma St. (vs. Utah)
It is going to be very tough for a Pac-12 team to make the playoffs this year. Oregon could do so by running the table, but the Ducks seem to have a defensive breakdown once a month, and we see one more loss in their future. Utah and Arizona still have just one loss, but we see multiple losses ahead for both.
USC may be the best team on the coast, but the Trojans have two losses and appear to have no chance to earn a spot in the playoffs. UCLA, Washington, Arizona State, Stanford, and Oregon State should join the others mentioned in a bowl. One will have to receive an at-large invitation, but there will be one available for sure.
1. Fiesta Bowl: U S C (vs. T C U)
2. Cotton Bowl: Oregon (vs. Baylor)
3. Alamo Bowl: Washington (vs. Oklahoma)
4. Holiday Bowl: Arizona (vs. Wisconsin)
5. San Francisco Bowl: U C L A (vs. Iowa)
6. Sun Bowl: Arizona St. (vs. Pittsburgh)
7. Las Vegas Bowl: Stanford (vs. Boise St.)
8. Cactus Bowl: Utah (vs. Oklahoma St.)
9. Poinsettia Bowl: Oregon St. * (vs. Colorado St.)
The league everybody else likes to hate can seriously stake a claim to having the top four teams in the nation and possibly top five teams. We do not believe Florida State could finish in the top half of the West Division standings this year.
In fact, our Mean ratings this week have Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, and Mississippi State as the top four teams. The SEC will get no more than two teams into the playoffs, because the rest of the FBS leagues would pick up their marbles and go home if more than two make it.
Our ratings show Ole Miss to be the hands-down best team in the nation at the present time, and Alabama is right there just behind. Auburn lost at Mississippi State, and the Bulldogs are still undefeated, but our ratings believe the Maroon and White will lose to both Alabama and Ole Miss.
Georgia is the wildcard in the hunt, as the Bulldogs need only beat Auburn to avoid another loss. At 7-1/11-1, UGA is one win away from a playoff spot.
Last week, Kentucky showed signs of a possible upcoming swoon, where the Wildcats could have to claw to that sixth win. Tennessee will be looking at a November where the Vols must go 3-1, but the schedule gives the Orange and White four winnable November games.
South Carolina and Missouri have shown numerous weaknesses but both teams will become bowl eligible. LSU and Texas A&M will join this group in the lower pecking order.
Florida appears to be headed to a 5-6 season, and the cancelled game with Idaho will not be made up, so Will Muschamp will go out with consecutive losing seasons in Gainesville, and the Gators will look hard at trying to lure Art Briles away from Baylor. And, it will mean that there will be one bowl (Independence) available to another team as an at-large selection.
1. Sugar Bowl: Ole Miss (vs. Ohio St.)
2. Rose Bowl: Alabama (vs. Florida St.)
3. Orange Bowl: Georgia (vs. Michigan St.)
4. Capital One Bowl: Mississippi St. (vs. Clemson)
5. Outback Bowl: Auburn (vs. Nebraska)
6. Gator Bowl: South Carolina (vs. Louisville)
7. Music City Bowl: L S U (vs. Minnesota)
8. Liberty Bowl: Missouri (vs. West Virginia)
9. Texas Bowl: Texas A&M (vs. Texas St. *)
10. Belk Bowl: Tennessee (vs. Virginia Tech)
11. Birmingham Bowl: Kentucky (vs. Memphis)
Teams that should be bowl eligible but not invited to bowls: Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Fresno St., and Louisiana-Monroe