October 25, 2011

Rivals.com 2011 bowl projections

The critics who blast away at the bowl system for rewarding mediocrity could be absolutely gleeful this fall. The reason? There are 70 bowl spots, and heading into the final six weeks of the season, there is a legitimate question about whether all the spots can be filled.

If the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC each get two teams in the BCS, those leagues might not be able to fill all their bowl slots. In our bowl projections this week, for instance, we have the Pac-12 getting two teams into the BCS and coming up two short of filling all its slots.

The Mountain West has four slots. If Boise State makes it into the BCS, the league could end up with one of its slots unfilled. Wyoming bears watching. The Cowboys are 4-2 and have eminently winnable games remaining against New Mexico and Colorado State, which would give the Cowboys six wins. But two of the Cowboys' victories are over FCS teams, and only one of those counts toward bowl eligibility. Thus, the league and its bowl partners might end up in the position of having to petition the NCAA to waive the six-win rule for Wyoming. The NCAA turned down a similar appeal from Arizona State last season.

The WAC has three tie-ins, but just two league teams currently have winning records. In addition, Fresno State plays 13 games, which means the Bulldogs have to get to seven wins to become bowl-eligible.

What could result, then, is a bowl bonanza for the Sun Belt and Mid-American conferences. The MAC has three tie-ins, but figures to have as many as seven or eight bowl-eligible teams. The Sun Belt has two tie-ins and should have at least three eligible teams. All those open slots have to be filled by someone, so all those "extra" MAC and Sun Belt teams could find postseason homes.

Of course, we're still in October, these are just projections and there are myriad teams that could pull upsets and finish with the needed six wins.

Then again, it could be a wild scramble among bowl officials as December draws near. Imagine, if you will, the possibility that Eastern Michigan has its choice of bowls. Eastern Michigan, which is 5-3, has been to one bowl in its history, in 1987, but could be a sought-after team this postseason.

Thus, in that vein, here's how we see the postseason shaking out.

[ Related: Wetzel: Bowl boycott would shock unfair system ]

A few notes about these bowl projections:

There again are 35 bowls, though there have been some name changes.

A bowl's tie-in with a league doesn't necessarily mean it will get the third-, fourth-, fifth-, etc., place team from the league; rather, it means it gets the third, fourth, fifth, etc., selection from that league.

An asterisk denotes a team that will be in the bowl because a league will not be able to fulfill its obligation. In some situations, other conferences have deals to provide teams if the "original" conference can't fill its spots; in those instances, the fill-in conference first fills it own bowl slots. If the fill-in conference doesn't have enough bowl-eligible teams, the bowl then is allowed to pick an at-large team that is bowl eligible.

BCS MATCHUPS
ROSE
Site: Pasadena, Calif.
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV:: 5 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Oregon vs. Wisconsin
SUGAR
Site: New Orleans
Date: Jan. 3
Time/TV:: 8:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: LSU vs. Oklahoma State
ORANGE
Site: Miami
Date: Jan. 4
Time/TV:: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Clemson vs. West Virginia
FIESTA
Site: Glendale, Ariz.
Date: Jan. 5
Time/TV:: 8:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Oklahoma vs. Boise State
BCS TITLE GAME
Site: New Orleans
Date: Jan. 9
Time/TV:: 8:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: BCS #1 vs. BCS #2
Projection: Alabama vs. Stanford
OTHER BOWL GAMES
NEW MEXICO
Site: Albuquerque
Date: Dec. 17
Time/TV:: 2 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Mountain West vs. Pac-12 #7
Projection: Wyoming vs. Eastern Michigan*
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO
Site: Boise, Idaho
Date: Dec. 17
Time/TV:: 5:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: MAC #3 vs. WAC
Projection: Temple vs. Fresno State
NEW ORLEANS
Site: New Orleans
Date: Dec. 17
Time/TV:: 9 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: C-USA vs. Sun Belt
Projection: East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
BEEF 'O'BRADY'S
Site: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Date: Dec. 20
Time/TV:: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big East #6 vs. C-USA
Projection: USF vs. UCF
POINSETTIA
Site: San Diego
Date: Dec. 21
Time/TV:: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Mountain West vs. WAC
Projection: San Diego State vs. Nevada
LAS VEGAS
Site: Las Vegas
Date: Dec. 22
Time/TV:: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Mountain West vs. Pac-10 #5
Projection: TCU vs. California
HAWAII
Site: Honolulu
Date: Dec. 24
Time/TV:: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: C-USA vs. WAC
Projection: Houston vs. Hawaii
INDEPENDENCE
Site: Shreveport, La.
Date: Dec. 26
Time/TV:: 5 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: ACC #7 vs. Mtn. West #3
Projection: North Carolina vs. Air Force
LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA
Site: Detroit
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV:: 4:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #8 vs. MAC #1
Projection: Iowa vs. Toledo
BELK
Site: Charlotte
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV:: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: ACC #5 vs. Big East #3
Projection: Wake Forest vs. Cincinnati
MILITARY
Site: Washington, D.C.
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV:: 4:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: ACC #8 vs. Navy/open
Projection: Virgnia vs. Western Michigan*
HOLIDAY
Site: San Diego
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV:: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big 12 #5 vs. Pac-10 #3
Projection: Baylor vs. Utah
CHAMPS SPORTS
Site: Orlando
Date: Dec. 29
Time/TV:: 5:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: ACC #3 vs. Big East #2/Notre Dame
Projection: Florida State vs. Notre Dame
ALAMO
Site: San Antonio
Date: Dec. 29
Time/TV:: 9 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big 12 #3 vs. Pac-10 #2
Projection: Kansas State vs. Arizona State
ARMED FORCES
Site: Dallas
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV:: Noon/ESPN
Matchup: C-USA vs. BYU/open
Projection: Tulsa vs. BYU
PINSTRIPE
Site: New York
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV:: 3:20 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big East #4 vs. Big 12 #7
Projection: Rutgers vs. Bowling Green*
MUSIC CITY
Site: Nashville
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV:: 6:40 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: ACC #6 vs. SEC #7
Projection: Miami vs. Mississippi State
INSIGHT
Site: Tempe, Ariz.
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV:: 10 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #4 vs. Big 12 #4
Projection: Penn State vs. Texas A&M
TEXAS
Site: Houston
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV:: Noon/ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #6 vs. Big 12 #6
Projection: Michigan vs. Texas Tech
SUN
Site: El Paso, Texas
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV:: 2 p.m./CBS
Matchup: ACC #4 vs. Pac-10 #4
Projection: Georgia Tech vs. Washington
LIBERTY
Site: Memphis
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV:: 3:30 p.m./ABC
Matchup: C-USA #1 vs. SEC #8
Projection: SMU vs. Tennessee
KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER
Site: San Francisco
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV:: 3:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Pac-12 #6 vs. Army/open
Projection: Pittsburgh* vs. Ohio U.*
CHICK-FIL-A
Site: Atlanta
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV:: 7:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: ACC #2 vs. SEC #5
Projection: Virginia Tech vs. South Carolina
TICKETCITY
Site: Dallas
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV:: Noon/ESPNU
Matchup: Big Ten #7 vs. C-USA
Projection: Illinois vs. Southern Miss
CAPITAL ONE
Site: Orlando
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV:: 1 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #2 vs. SEC #2
Projection: Nebraska vs. Arkansas
GATOR
Site: Jacksonville
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV:: 1 p.m./ESPN2
Matchup: Big Ten #5 vs. SEC #6
Projection: Ohio State vs. Florida
OUTBACK
Site: Tampa
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV:: 1 p.m./ABC
Matchup: Big Ten #3 vs. SEC #3
Projection: Michigan State vs. Georgia
COTTON
Site: Arlington, Texas
Date: Jan. 6
Time/TV:: 8 p.m./Fox
Matchup: Big 12 #2 vs. SEC #4
Projection: Texas vs. Auburn
BBVA COMPASS
Site: Birmingham, Ala.
Date: Jan. 7
Time/TV:: 1 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big East #5 vs. SEC #9
Projection: Syracuse vs. Florida International*
GoDADDY.COM
Site: Mobile, Ala.
Date: Jan. 8
Time/TV:: 9 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: MAC #2 vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State

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