Final C-USA bowl projections prior to Selection Day

Selection Day is finally upon us. We should know where UTSA and the rest of Conference USA’s bowl-eligible teams are headed later this afternoon, but here are our final projections to hold you over until then.

UTSA will officially unveil their bowl destination at approximately 1:45 p.m. today on Facebook Live.

There have already been a handful of bowl swaps that didn’t impact C-USA, but any swaps that might change the C-USA bowl picture would likely be between multiple ESPN-owned bowls.

Bowl games owned by ESPN

  • Armed Forces Bowl
  • Birmingham Bowl
  • Bahamas Bowl*
  • Boca Raton Bowl*
  • Camellia Bowl
  • Celebration Bowl
  • Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
  • Hawaiʻi Bowl*
  • Heart of Dallas Bowl*
  • Las Vegas Bowl
  • New Mexico Bowl*
  • St. Petersburg Bowl
  • Texas Bowl

*C-USA tie-in

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Saturday, December 17, 1:00 p.m.
University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
C-USA vs. Mountain West #2-6
2015 Payout: $456,250

Almost everyone is in agreement now that UTSA will be heading to Albuquerque for their first-ever bowl game, but you never know if ESPN will make a last-minute shift to try to create better match-ups elsewhere and send us to one of their other bowls.

Prediction: UTSA (6-6) vs. New Mexico (8-4)

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Saturday, December 17, 8:00 p.m.
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
C-USA vs. Sun Belt #1
2015 Payout: $500,000

Multiple media outlets have now reported that the New Orleans Bowl will feature Southern Miss and Louisiana-Lafayette. Given the ODU to Hawaii Bowl announcement, I don’t see anything that would get in the way of this.

Prediction: Southern Miss (6-6) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (6-6)

Boca Raton Bowl

Tuesday, December 20, 6:00 p.m.
FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Fla.
C-USA vs. American #7
2015 Payout: $400,000

Western Kentucky are your C-USA Champs and will be heading to Boca for some of that south Florida recruiting. I previously put UCF in the slot opposite WKU, but it looks like they will go elsewhere in-state to the Miami Beach Bowl, so Memphis is the consensus to fill in here.

Prediction: Western Kentucky (10-3) vs. Memphis (8-4)

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

Friday, December 23, 12:00 p.m.
Thomas Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
C-USA vs. MAC #2-5 or American #6
2015 Payout: $450,000

It was confirmed last week that Old Dominion would face Eastern Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl.

Prediction: Old Dominion (9-3) vs. Eastern Michigan (7-5)

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Friday, December 23, 3:30 p.m.
Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
Big 12 #7 vs. American (Navy, if eligible)
2015 Payout: $675,000

This is where things start to get interesting. The Big 12 only has six bowl-eligible teams and this is their 7th slot, so I thought North Texas would be a shoo-in here given their proximity to the bowl. However, a report from Brett McMurphy at ESPN (who own this bowl, for what that’s worth) has a Big 12 team, likely Baylor, taking on Navy.

It seems reasonable that the Big 12 might try to dump their Cactus Bowl bid against a Mountain West opponent in favor of the Armed Forces Bowl against Navy, but the Cactus Bowl promises a very nice payout ($3.3 million last year) and it is owned by the Fiesta Bowl, not by ESPN, making the deal much more difficult to complete in such a short amount of time.

I’ve gone back and forth on this a few times, but it just makes so much more sense for all parties involved to have Louisiana Tech here and have the Big 12 retain their tie-in with the Cactus Bowl.

Prediction: Louisiana Tech (8-5) vs. Navy (9-3, game vs. Army remaining)

Hawai’i Bowl

Saturday, December 24, 7:00 p.m.
Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
C-USA vs. Mountain West #2-6
2015 Payout: $650,000

Nothing has come out to cast any doubt on this Middle Tennessee-Hawaii match-up, and I don’t foresee any last-minute swaps here.

Prediction: Middle Tennessee (8-4) vs. Hawaii (6-7)

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl

Tuesday, December 27, 11:00 a.m.
Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas, Texas
C-USA vs. Big Ten #8-9
2015 Payout: $1.1 million

Louisiana Tech seemed like the obvious favorite for the Heart of Dallas Bowl for weeks now, but the aforementioned ESPN report has North Texas here against Army, and it makes sense for C-USA to go local with the Heart of Dallas since the Big Ten couldn’t provide a Power-Five opponent for us.

Prediction: North Texas (5-7) vs. Army (6-5, game vs. Navy remaining)

Motel 6 Cactus Bowl

Tuesday, December 27, 9:15 p.m.
Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
Big 12 #6 vs. Pac-12 #7 (Backup: Mountain West)
2015 Payout: $3.3 million

With the Pac-12 unable to provide a team for the Cactus Bowl, their spot defaults to the backup Mountain West tie-in. Faced with the potential of matching up with a Group-of-Five opponent either way, perhaps the Big 12 worked a deal to keep their Armed Forces slot against a quality Navy team and give up Cactus to Louisiana Tech, but I just don’t see it happening with a non-ESPN bowl.

Prediction: Baylor (6-6) vs. Boise State (10-2)

 

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Darrell Williams

Darrell started writing about UTSA football before it was even a thing, then he took a few years off, and now he’s back.