I, For One, Welcome The Bowl-pocalypse

There are a lot of bowls and in my opinion, way too many. With new bowls being proposed for the new Yankee Stadium, the Cotton Bowl and a third bowl in Orlando, I have no idea how the NCAA is going to fill these future bowls. Something will have to give.

This year, there is the distinct possibility that the NCAA might not even be able to fill its existing allotment of 34 bowls. College football is flirting with the bowl-pocalypse, writes the Washington Times Patrick Stevens. Last weekend, the number of bowl-eligible teams rose to 44, but the bloated college football season needs 68 to fill its 34 bowls. Can college football scrounge up 24 more teams to fill all the bowls this offseason?

Let’s take a look by conference:

 

Atlantic Coast

Bowl eligible (5): Clemson, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech
On the bubble (6): Florida State, Wake Forest, NC State, Duke, Virginia, North Carolina
Bowl ineligible (1): Maryland

Prediction (7): The ACC someone finds 2 more bids to get to 7 bowl-eligible teams. North Carolina and the winner of Wake Forest/Florida State this weekend sneak in. In a rather bizarre scenario, Maryland is technically still eligible for only one bowl: the Orange Bowl. The short version is that Maryland would have to win out and finish 6-7, Clemson would have to lose two games, and BC would have to lose 2 of 3.

 

Big 12

Bowl eligible (4): Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Nebraska
On the bubble (8): Kansas State, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Baylor
Bowl ineligible (0): None

Prediction (9): Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas A&M and Iowa State get to 6 wins to become bowl eligible. K-State wins one more to get to 7 wins and become bowl eligible. Colorado, Baylor and Kansas stay home.

 

Big East

Bowl eligible (3): Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, West Virginia
On the bubble (5): Rutgers, South Florida, Connecticut, Louisville, Syracuse
Bowl ineligible (0): None

Prediction (5): South Florida and Rutgers have to get to 7 since they snacked on I-AAs. Still, they are a virtual lock for a bowl. Connecticut has to win 2 of 3 and I don’t see this happening. Syracuse and Louisville each have to win their remaining 3 games to make a bowl. Try to hold back your laughter.

 

Big Ten

Bowl eligible (5): Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Northwestern
On the bubble (6): Michigan State, Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana
Bowl ineligible (0): None

Prediction (7): The winner of Michigan State-Purdue gets in this weekend. Loser goes home. Minnesota gets in as they play some team called the Jackrabbits this weekend. Illinois, Michigan and Indiana are all watching from home.

 

Conference USA

Bowl eligible (1): Houston
On the bubble (9): East Carolina, Marshall, Southern Miss, UCF, UAB, Southern Methodist, UTEP, Tulsa, Tulane
Bowl ineligible (2): Rice, Memphis

Prediction (7): Hell freezes over as Conference USA sends a record 7 teams to bowls. East Carolina, Marshall, Southern Miss, UCF, Southern Methodist and Tulsa all find wins in one of their last three games. Four of six Conference USA West teams are home for the holidays.

 

I-A Independent

Bowl eligible (2): Navy, Notre Dame
On the bubble (1): Army
Bowl ineligible (0): None

Prediction (2): Army, currently at 3-6, gets two wins against VMI and North Texas but gets crushed in the Army vs. Navy game which keeps the Black Knights from getting to a bowl. Irish fans - I hear Jacksonville is lovely in early January.

 

Mid-American

Bowl eligible (4): Temple, Ohio, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois
On the bubble (5): Kent State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Western Michigan, Toledo
Bowl ineligible (4): Akron, Miami (Ohio), Ball State, Eastern Michigan

Prediction (6): The winner of Bowling Green-Toledo gets in. Western Michigan gets 2 wins to push their record to 6-6. The rest stay home.

 

Mountain West

Bowl eligible (4): TCU, Utah, Brigham Young, Air Force
On the bubble (3): San Diego State, Wyoming, UNLV
Bowl ineligible (2): New Mexico, Colorado State

Prediction (5): Either San Diego State or Wyoming sneak in at 6-6 to make 5 teams from the Mountain West.

 

Pacific-10

Bowl eligible (6): Oregon, Arizona, Stanford, USC, Oregon State, California
On the bubble (3): Arizona State, Washington, UCLA
Bowl ineligible (1): Washington State

Prediction (7): UCLA is the Pac-10’s only hope for another bowl team.

 

Southeastern

Bowl eligible (5): Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, LSU, Auburn
On the bubble (6): Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Arkansas
Bowl ineligible (1): Vanderbilt

Prediction (10): Arkansas beats Troy to get to 6 wins. Mississippi wins one of its final three to go bowling in an otherwise disappointing season. Kentucky once again squeaks by at 6-6. So do the Vols. So do the Bulldogs. SEC is rewarded with 10 bowl trips, many of those thoroughly mediocre 6-6 seasons.

 

Sun Belt

Bowl eligible (2): Troy, Middle Tennessee State
On the bubble (4): Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette, Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State
Bowl ineligible (3): Florida International, North Texas, Western Kentucky

Prediction (3): Louisiana-Monroe wins this weekend to clinch their program’s first ever bowl berth. Louisiana-Lafayette might … might get in, but it will be a struggle to find a win against the top three teams in the division. We’ll say there will be 3 eligible from the Sun Belt but all 3 might not go bowling.

 

Western Athletic

Bowl eligible (4): Nevada, Boise State, Fresno State, Idaho
On the bubble (3): Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, Hawaii
Bowl ineligible (2): Utah State, San Jose State

Prediction (4): All three programs on the bubble have to win out. None of them will. Louisiana Tech still has to play LSU. New Mexico State plays Boise State. Hawaii plays Navy and Wisconsin.

 

Adding up these predictions, I count 72 bowl-eligible programs for 68 bowl slots. That's good news for college football's bloated postseason. Bad news for programs like Louisiana-Monroe. It looks like Conference USA's seven teams will bail out the bowl games this season. However, the margin for error for teams on the bowl bubble is razor thin. An upset here or an upset there and college football may not be able to fill its 34 bowls. One of the lower tier bowls may very well be left out in the cold. But is that a bad thing or a good thing for college football?

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