10/10/2011 02:38 PM
TGS EXTRA!!! SPECIAL REPORT...AN EARLY LOOK AT THE BOWLS!
We know we're just getting to the start of October. But much like we did last basketball season when our first "Bracketology" update for college hoops first appeared before New Year's (and was very well received), so we do the same with the college bowl lineup with an early, make that very early, preview.
We'll be updating this list periodically through the nexy few months both here in Extra Points as well as on our website at www.goldsheet.com. And, of course, we reserve the right to change any of these forecasts as we go along. But for now, here are our best postseason projections.
NEW MEXICO (Dec. 17 at Albuquerque, Mountain West vs. Pac-12): Washington State vs. Colorado State...Both of these coaches (Wazzu's Paul Wulff and CSU's Steve Fairchild) save their jobs with bowl visits. The Cougs look like one of the most-improved teams in the nation and can go bowling for the first time since 2003. As for the Rams, Saturday's wild OT win over Utah State puts them at 3-1, and we already see four extremely winnable games (San Jose State, UTEP, UNLV, and Wyoming) remaining on the slate.
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO (Dec. 17 at Boise, MAC vs. WAC): Nevada vs. Toledo...It's about time "potato" became part of the name of the Boise bowl, no? Ironically, hometown Boise State can't even be eligible for this game because it has moved to the Mountain West, and the bowl contract calls for another WAC vs. MAC matchup. This year, we believe the Wolf Pack returns for the first time since 2006, perhaps to face Toledo.
NEW ORLEANS (Dec. 17 at New Orleans, Sun Belt vs. MAC): Bowling Green vs. Florida International...The Golden Panthers were shocked last week by the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns but still look like the team to beat in the Belt. Bowling Green appears likely to return to the bowl mix after missing by a mile in last year's 2-10 fiasco.
BEEF O'BRADY'S ST. PETERSBURG (Dec. 20 at St. Pete, Big East vs. CUSA): Pittsburgh vs. UCF...The Golden Knights were fancying themselves as a longshot BCS Buster before dropping their last two vs. FIU and BYU. They'll provide a welcome regional presence at the Trop against Pitt, which doesn't look like a top-tier bowl team.
POINSETTIA (Dec. 21 at San Diego, Mountain West vs. WAC): Fresno State vs. San Diego State...These two reunite again as conference foes next season after having previously been affiliated in the old PCAA and an earlier version of the WAC.
MAACO LAS VEGAS (Dec. 22 at Las Vegas, Mountain West vs. Pac-12): TCU vs. Cal...The Frogs' BCS dreams have likely already been broken by the opening defeat at Baylor, and a loss in November at TCU probably sends the Frogs to Las Vegas before they abandon the Mountain for good. Cal's weekend loss at Washington suggests another lower-tier bowl is probably in store for Jeff Tedford.
SHERATON HAWAII (Dec. 24 at Honolulu, WAC vs. CUSA): Hawaii vs. Southern Miss...We admit to not being yet convinced that Hawaii is going to get bowl-eligible and qualify for its home-field bowl. Southern Miss might be thinking it is bound for the Liberty Bowl spot reserved for the CUSA champ, but Honolulu would be a nice consolation prize.
INDEPENDENCE (Dec. 26 at Shreveport, ACC vs. Mountain West): North Carolina vs. La Tech...Very provisional call with North Carolina, which might still end up ineligible for the postseason. We're predicting a horse-trade of sorts with the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco involving Mountain West Air Force to fill at-large spot in that game for emerging La Tech, playing very close to home.
LITTLE CAESAR'S (Dec. 27 at Detroit, MAC vs. Big Ten): Ohio vs. Penn State...Frank Solich has had his problems in bowls with the Bobcats but we suspect he gets another chance in December, perhaps in Detroit and perhaps vs. Penn State. Would this really be where Joe Paterno's storied career could come to an end, in a bowl game named after a pizza?
BELK CHARLOTTE (Dec. 27 at Charlotte, ACC vs. Big East): Wake Forest vs. West Virginia...This one used to be known as the Meineke, which has switched allegiance (more on that in a moment). We noted last year how much the Big East bowl assignments drop after the BCS slot; this might be the most-desirable of the available lot for WVU if it doesn't win the league. Meanwhile, we think Jim Grobe can steer Wake to six wins and a postseason return.
MILITARY (Dec. 28 at Washington, D.C, ACC vs. Navy): Maryland vs. Navy...The Mids' rotating bowl assignments land in close-by D.C. this year. A match vs. Maryland would provide lots of local flavor, although we wonder about the Terps after their blowout loss to Temple.
HOLIDAY (Dec. 28 at San Diego, Big XII vs. Pac-12): Texas A&M vs. Arizona State...These two might still be thinking they can sneak into the BCS mix but we think this assignment is more likely.
CHAMPS SPORTS (Dec. 29 at Orlando, ACC vs. Big East): Florida State vs. Cincinnati...FSU's national title hopes are completely up in smoke already and the Noles' BCS hopes have been marginalized as well. This might be a good matchup, however. vs. the lively Bearcats.
ALAMO (Dec. 29 at San Antonio, Big XII vs. Pac-12): Texas vs. Utah...The Horns return to bowl action this year but the upper crust of the Big XII is going to be hard to crack for one of the high-profile events. Utah will find consolation bowl dates to be upgraded in the Pac-12 from its previous assignments in the Mountain West.
ARMED FORCES (Dec. 30 at Dallas, BYU vs. CUSA): BYU vs. Tulsa...We weren't quite sure about BYU qualifying for bowl action until the win over UCF; now we'd be surprised if the Cougs don't make it. Look for Tulsa's season to begin to straighten out after a brutal non-conference slate (top ten Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Boise State...whew!) in September.
YANKEE PINSTRIPE (Dec. 30 at Bronx, NY, Big East vs. Big XII): Rutgers vs. Missouri...Greg Schiano looks to be maneuvering Rutgers back into the bowl mix after last year's absence. Mizzou's sights are already aiming at this level after losses at Arizona State and Oklahoma. This one at Yankee Stadium, and the Boise Famous Potato Bowl, are the only two bowls at acknowledged cold-weather sites.
MUSIC CITY (Dec. 30 at Nashville, SEC vs. ACC): Arkansas vs. Miami-Florida...Provisional pick here for Miami, which might decide to ban itself form the postseason to help with likely NCAA sanctions on the horizon. This certainly doesn't appear to be a BCS-type year for the Canes. Meanwhile, Arkansas will have to really adjust its bowl sights downward if it loses this week to Texas A&M at Jerry Jones Stadium.
INSIGHT (Dec. 30 at Tempe, Big Ten vs. Big XII): Northwestern vs. Iowa State...The Wildcats are scheduled to get QB Dan Persa back in action this week, which might be a necessity to get NU bowl-eligible this season. ISU is already halfway to the six wins needed for bowl qualification.
MEINEKE CAR CARE TEXAS (Dec. 31 at Houston, Big XII vs. Big Ten): Texas Tech vs. Iowa...Note that Meineke has switched allegiance from Charlotte to Houston for this year's bowl sponsorship. This seems about the right spot for both the Red Raiders and Hawkeyes to land.
SUN (Dec. 31 at El Paso, ACC vs. Pac-12): Clemson vs. Washington...Of course, at this moment, Clemson folks think the Tigers are BCS-bound, but we think this is a more-likely destination in El Paso. U-Dub remains an intriguing Pac-12 darkhorse that might earn something better than this trip.
LIBERTY (Dec. 31 at Memphis, CUSA vs. SEC): Houston vs. Mississippi State...Watch to see if Cougar HC Kevin Sumlin gets on a short list for any high-profile openings. MSU's longshot BCS hopes are already out the window but would be an appealing regional choice for this game in Memphis.
KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER (Dec. 31 at San Francisco, Army vs. Pac-12): Kansas State vs. Air Force...Since we are unsure if Army or an 8th Pac-12 team become bowl-eligible, we fill in this one with Bill Snyder's Kansas State and Air Force, which does a flip with La Tech to let the Bulldogs play close to home at Shreveport in the Independence Bowl spot that was to be reserved for a Mountain West team. The Falcs would also nicely fill the service academy slot for this game.
CHICK-FIL-A (Dec. 31 at Atlanta, ACC vs. SEC): Virginia Tech vs. Georgia...This matchup would intrigue for two reasons. First, it means we think someone other than the Hokies is going to win the ACC and qualify for the BCS (you'll have to read on for that secret to be unveiled). It also suggests that Mark Richt will do enough this fall with Georgia to save his job (although this bowl likely the cut-off point).
TICKETCITY (Jan. 2 at Dallas, CUSA vs. Big Ten): SMU vs. Michigan State...This mathcup would provide some needed local flavor with nearby SMU, playing in its old home stadium. We suspect the Spartans are bowl-bound, but down the pecking order in this year's Big Ten postseason slate.
OUTBACK (Jan. 2 at Tampa, Big Ten vs. SEC): Illinois vs. Florida...We would simply love the dynamics of this one with Ron Zook facing the school that fired him after the 2004 season.
CAPITAL ONE (Jan. 2 at Orlando: Big Ten vs. SEC): Michigan vs. South Carolina...Steve Spurrier and his Gamecocks have had a tough time in bowls the past few years. This assignment would also confirm a quick resurrection of Wolverine football fortunes under first-year HC Brady Hoke.
GATOR (Jan. 2 at Jacksonville, Big Ten vs. SEC): Tennessee vs. Ohio State...Ohio State, like Miami and North Carolina, is a provisional pick, although the Buckeyes seemed to have dodged the most-serious NCAA bullets. But Luke Fickell's OSU is not good enough to get back into the BCS this season. This date would signify some progress made by Derek Dooley's regime at UT. By the way, we like the new sponsor name for this one...Taxslayer.com.
ROSE (Jan. 2 at Pasadena, BCS vs. BCS): Nebraska vs. Stanford...The Huskers' welcome to the Big Ten will be complete with an invitation to the Rose Bowl. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck and Stanford gets to the Arroyo Seco on New Year's (or Jan. 2, as it may) for the first time in 12 years and only the second time since 1972.
FIESTA (Jan. 2 at Glendale, AZ, BCS vs. BCS): LSU vs. Boise State...Somewhere along the way, LSU is going to lose a game, and this year it will mean blowing a chance at the BCS title matchup; remember, the Tigers got to the finale in 2007 with two regular-season losses. Boise has few obstacles other than perhaps TCU in its way for a BCS return and third trip to the Fiesta, where it has won twice before.
SUGAR (Jan. 3 at New Orleans, BCS vs. BCS): Alabama vs. Oregon...Ditto for Bama, which will have lost once this season and be denied a BCS title game shot. A matchup vs. Oregon would certainly pit the immovable object (Tide "D") vs. the irresistible force (Ducks'"O").
ORANGE (Jan. 4 at Miami, BCS vs. BCS): Georgia Tech vs. South Florida...The ACC race looks better than we envisioned this season, and we suspect Paul Johnson can get Tech back to the BCS for a second time in three years. Skip Holtz' stock will shoot through the roof if he can steer South Florida to the Big East title and the BCS.
BBVA COMPASS (Jan. 6 at Birmingham, Big East vs. SEC): Syracuse vs. Auburn...What a letdown this will be for the Tigers, all of the way from last year's BCS title game. But Auburn would guarantee a good gate, unless fans are so repulsed at the idea of watching Syracuse that they stay away. Does anyone else remember the last time these two faced off in a bowl, a highly-unsatisfying 16-16 tie in the Jan. 1, 1988 Sugar Bowl? We still haven't forgiven Pat Dye for settling for a meaningles tie with a field goal instead of going for the win in the final seconds.
GODADDY.COM (Jan. 8 at Mobile, Sun Belt vs. MAC): Troy vs. Temple...This would be a decent matchup, although most guys will tune in for all of the commercials featuring GoDaddy girls Danica Patrick and Jillian Michaels, plus, if rumor is correct, US soccer goalie Hope Solo.
BCS TITLE GAME (Jan. 9 at New Orleans, BCS vs. BCS): Oklahoma vs. Wisconsin...By our reckoning, these are going to be the two biggest names remaining undefeated. And don't even think about the hell that would break loose if a one-loss SEC team was picked for this game over either of these two.
Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: