The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 2, 2009

Bowl Projections For November 2, 2009

Weekly Bowl Predictions

Monday, November 2, 2009

 

This will be a pivotal weekend in the bowl pecking orders, as several marquee games are on tap.  Two of the big three have easy games this week.  Texas will have little more than a workout against Central Florida, while Florida should have enough points on the board two possessions into the game to beat Vanderbilt.

 

Here’s a conference-by-conference outlook for this week.  Unlike many bowl projections, which use a system based on if the season ended today, the PiRate Bowl Projections looks ahead and predicts where the teams will be on December 6.

 

Atlantic Coast Conference

The Atlantic Division is still very much up-for-grabs with Boston College and Clemson tied for first and Florida State and Wake Forest just one game back.  We think Clemson can run the table and grab the division flag.  

 

Georgia Tech has a one game lead over Duke (yes, Duke), but they are tied in the loss column.  We see the Blue Devils having an excellent chance at becoming bowl eligible, but they aren’t going to run the table and win the Coastal Division.  Georgia Tech just edged Clemson in Atlanta, and we think CU would get revenge in an ACC Championship Game.

 

1. BCS Automatic (Orange)—Clemson

2. Chick-fil-A—Miami

3. Gator—Georgia Tech

4. Champ Sports—Virginia Tech

5. Music City—North Carolina

6. Champs Sports—Boston College

7. Emerald—Florida State

8. Eagle Bank—Duke

9. G M A C—No Team Available

 

Big East

Cincinnati is the darling this year, but we think they will stumble at Pittsburgh on December 5.  The Panthers have home games with Syracuse and Notre Dame and the backyard brawl game at West Virginia, and we think Dave Wannstedt’s team will win out to take the Big East Championship.  The question here is where a Cincinnati team at 11-1 would go.  We think the Bearcats would not garner an at-large bid to a BCS Bowl.

 

This conference will have a little shuffling to make sure there will be no rematch games in bowls.  West Virginia played both East Carolina and Marshall, and they will not play either CUSA team in a bowl

 

1. BCS Automatic (Orange)—Pittsburgh

2. Gator—Notre Dame

3. Meineke Car Care—Cincinnati

4. Papa John’s—West Virginia

5. International—Rutgers

6. St. Petersburg—South Florida

 

Big Ten

Iowa is the reincarnated version of Indiana in 1967, the epitome of cardiac comebacks.  That Indiana team finally fell at Minnesota in November, and the schedule is set for Iowa to have that type of game at Ohio State.  For now, we believe Ohio State doesn’t have the offensive talent to upset the Hawkeyes.

 

Penn State should edge Ohio State, but the season finale at Michigan State is definitely a trap game.  At 11-1, they are in a BCS Bowl for sure, but at 10-2, it becomes a little hazy.

 

The bottom four bowls will shuffle to find their best fit, as we see three 6-6 teams and one 7-5 team vying for those bids.  Michigan will trump the other three even with a 6-6 record.

 

1. BCS Automatic (Rose)—Iowa

1a. BCS At-large ( )—Penn State

2. Capital One—Wisconsin

3. Outback—Ohio State

4. Alamo—Michigan

5. Champs Sports—Minnesota

6. Insight—Michigan State

7. Pizza—Northwestern

 

Big 12

Texas is moving along like a steamroller going down hill.  The Longhorns close the season with Central Florida, Baylor, Kansas, Texas A&M, and the Big 12 North Champion.  A&M may be the only team that can come close, so Mack Brown should get a chance to play for his second national championship in Pasadena.

 

Parity leaves this conference with a distinct possibility of having 10 bowl-eligible teams for eight bowls.  The two teams not receiving bids will be 6-6, so there isn’t a great chance either will earn a bowl.

 

1. BCS Automatic (National Championship)—Texas

2. Cotton—Oklahoma State

3. Holiday—Oklahoma

4. Alamo—Texas Tech

5. Sun—Nebraska

6. Insight—Texas A&M

7. Independence—Missouri

8. Texas—Kansas State

 

Bowl Eligible (at 6-6)

Kansas

Iowa State

 

Conference USA

This conference is a jigsaw puzzle.  East Carolina and Houston now appear to be on a collision course toward meeting in the conference championship game, but both teams face opponents that can upset them.  For now, we’ll stick with Case Keenum and the Cougars to win out and finish the regular season at 12-1.  Whether that could propel them out of the automatic bid to the Liberty Bowl to a better bowl, we don’t know.

 

1. Liberty—Houston

2. Hawaii—East Carolina

3. Armed Forces—S M U

4. New Orleans—Southern Miss

5. St. Petersburg—Marshall

 

Bowl Eligible (all at 6-6)

Tulsa

Central Florida

U A B

 

Independents

Notre Dame will not qualify as a BCS Bowl participant, so they will steal a spot from the Big East.  Navy is one win away from an automatic spot in the Texas Bowl, while Army has too much to do to get bowl eligible.

 

1. Gator Bowl—Notre Dame per Gator Bowl rules with Big East

2. Texas—Navy

3. Eagle Bank—No Team Available (Army falls short)

 

Mid-American

Temple and Central Michigan are headed to the MAC Championship Game, while Northern Illinois, Ohio, and Kent State  appear to be headed to the good kind of bowl eligibility (seven or more wins).  Unfortunately for this league, it now looks like the ACC will have an eligible team for this bowl, so the MAC won’t get a guaranteed fourth bid.  However, we see two teams finishing with seven or more wins and jumping ahead of all the 6-6 teams for any at-large bids.

 

The MAC doesn’t automatically send its overall champion to Detroit.  The Pizza Bowl gets first choice, but they don’t have to take the champion.  Central Michigan went there last year, so we think the Chippewas will head to Mobile instead.

 

1. Pizza—Northern Illinois

2. GMAC—Central Michigan

3. International—Temple

 

Bowl Eligible (7-5 or better)

Ohio U

Kent State

 

Mountain West

T C U closes with San Diego State, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico.  SDSU could give the Horned Frogs some competition for 15-25 minutes, but TCU will handle the Aztecs.  Utah is always tough, but the Utes don’t have the horses to win in Ft. Worth.  Wyoming can always surprise in Laramie in late November, but we think TCU will win.  At 12-0 and with road wins against Clemson and BYU, TCU should get a BCS Bowl bid even if Boise State finishes ahead of them in the BCS standings.

 

A. BCS At-Large (Fiesta)—T C U

1. Las Vegas—B Y U

2. Poinsettia—Utah

3. Armed Forces—Air Force

4. New Mexico—San Diego State

5. Humanitarian—No Team Available

 

Pac-10

If Southern Cal receives an at-large BCS bowl bid over a 12-0 TCU or Boise State, it will be highway robbery.  The Trojans could even lose another game, so we are picking them to fall short.  Oregon is in the driver’s seat, but Arizona still lurks in the bushes.  The Ducks must visit Tucson on November 21, and if the Wildcats win at Cal the week before, this game will be for first place in the Pac-10.  We think Oregon can lose this game and still win the championship.

 

1. BCS Automatic (Rose)—Oregon

2. Holiday—Southern Cal

3. Sun—California

4. Las Vegas—Arizona

5. Emerald—Stanford

6. Poinsettia—Oregon State

 

Bowl Eligible (6-6)

U C L A

 

Southeastern

This week, we are back to picking Florida to edge Alabama, but that could change again.  LSU is the clear cut third best team, but there’s a huge drop to the fourth place team.  This league will send 10 teams to bowls, with the bottom five teams finishing with 7-5 or 6-6 records.

 

1. BCS Automatic (National Championship Game)—Florida

1a. BCS At-large (Sugar)—Alabama

2. Capital One—L S U

3. Outback—Tennessee

4. Cotton—Auburn

5. Chick-fil-A—Ole Miss

6. Music City—Georgia

7. Liberty—Ole Miss

8. Independence—Kentucky

9. Papa John’s—South Carolina

 

Sunbelt

Troy has little in its path to securing another SBC title.  This league has only one automatic bowl bid.  Three more bowls guarantee a seven-win SBC team first priority if their contracted conference cannot provide a team, but we believe all three bowls will have a bowl-eligible team from each conference.

 

1. New Orleans—Troy

 

Bowl Eligible (7-5 or better)

Middle Tennessee

 

Western Athletic

Boise State has three games remaining against teams that can give them a run for their money.  A Friday night game this week at Louisiana Tech is a huge trap game, while home games against Idaho and Nevada could be interesting for awhile.  The Broncos should run the table in the regular season for the fourth time in six years.  A win over Pac-10 champ Oregon if the Ducks finish 11-1 should be enough to earn BSU an at-large bid to a BCS Bowl, even if TCU finishes ahead of them.  However, unscrupulous bowl sponsors wouldn’t be required to take the Broncos, even if TCU and Boise State finished 3rd and 4th in the final BCS Standings.

 

A. BCS At-Large (Sugar)—Boise State

1. Humanitarian—Idaho

2. New Mexico—Nevada

3. Hawaii—Fresno State

 

The BCS Bowls

National Championship Game—Texas vs. Florida

Fiesta Bowl—Penn State vs. T C U

Orange Bowl—Clemson vs. Pittsburgh

Sugar Bowl—Alabama vs. Boise State

Rose Bowl—Oregon vs. Iowa

 

With Florida finishing first in the BCS Standings, the Sugar Bowl will get the first at-large pick.  Even though Alabama went there last year, we see the Sugar Bowl officials taking the Tide once again.  The Fiesta Bowl would get the next at-large choice after losing Texas to the title game, and we believe they would take Penn State.  The Orange Bowl would then choose Pittsburgh over the rest of the field.  The Fiesta would then take TCU, and the Sugar Bowl would then have all the pressure to either do the right thing and take Boise State or the wrong thing and take a one or even two-loss team (Cincinnati, Southern Cal, Georgia Tech)

 

The Rest

First, let’s take care of the loose change.  There will be three bowls that will not have regularly contracted team available.  The GMAC Bowl will not have an available ACC team; the Eagle Bank Bowl will not have a bowl-eligible Army team; and the Humanitarian Bowl will not have an available Mountain West Team.

 

We expect there to be exactly three bowl-eligible teams with seven or more wins, and they will fill the three slots ahead of a host of 6-6 teams from BCS conferences.  Those three fortunate teams are Ohio U, Kent State, and Middle Tennessee.  

 

Note: Teams in asterisks are 7-win or better at-large bowl eligible teams

 

New Mexico San Diego State vs. Nevada
St. Petersburg South Florida vs. Marshall
New Orleans Troy vs. Southern Miss
Las Vegas B Y U vs. Arizona
Poinsettia Utah vs. Oregon State
Hawaii Fresno State vs. East Carolina
Little Caesar’s Pizza Northern Illinois vs. Northwestern
Meineke Car Care Boston College vs. Cincinnati
Emerald Florida State vs. Stanford
Music City North Carolina vs. Georgia
Independence Kentucky vs. Missouri
Eagle Bank Duke vs. Kent State
Champs Sports Virginia Tech vs. Minnesota
Humanitarian Idaho vs. Ohio U
Holiday Southern Cal vs. Oklahoma
Armed Forces Air Force vs. S M U
Sun Nebraska vs. California
Texas Navy vs. Kansas State
Insight.com Michigan State vs. Texas A&M
Chick-fil-A Miami-FL vs. Arkansas
Outback Ohio State vs. Tennessee
Capital One Wisconsin vs. L S U
Gator Georgia Tech vs. Notre Dame
International Rutgers vs. Temple
Cotton Oklahoma State vs. Auburn
Papajohns.com West Virginia vs. South Carolina
Liberty Ole Miss vs. Houston
Alamo Michigan vs. Texas Tech
G M A C Central Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee

 

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.

 

Insight.com: 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.

 

PapaJohns.com: 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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