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)

 

Updated C-USA bowl projections heading into championship weekend

Thanks to a Southern Miss upset over Louisiana Tech last week, the Conference USA bowl picture now has one too many teams and quite a few of our projections have shifted around to accommodate the Golden Eagles.

Bowl-eligible: Western Kentucky (9-3), Old Dominion (9-3), Louisiana Tech (8-4), Middle Tennessee (8-4), UTSA (6-6), Southern Miss (6-6), North Texas (5-7, eligible based on APR)

Eliminated: Charlotte (4-8), FIU (4-8), UTEP (4-8), FAU (3-9), Marshall (3-9), Rice (3-9)

All bowl matchups will officially be announced on Selection Day, next Sunday, December 4.

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

Albuquerque still seems to be the most likely option for the Roadrunners in their first-ever bowl game, but it is certainly possible that UTSA and North Texas end up trading spots.

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

Old Dominion looked to have the New Orleans Bowl locked up until Southern Miss pulled off the upset over Louisiana Tech. The Golden Eagles are less than two hours from New Orleans and have appeared in this bowl four times previously, so they will be the likely choice now that they are eligible.

Prediction: Southern Miss (6-6) vs. Appalachian State (9-3)

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 may have some better opponents available in other bowls, but they recruit Florida much more heavily than Texas, so they should stick with Boca Raton.

Prediction: Western Kentucky (9-3) vs. UCF (6-6)

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

We received the news today that Old Dominion has agreed to play in the Bahamas Bowl, making their first bowl appearance since moving up to FBS.

Prediction: Old Dominion (9-3) vs. Miami (OH) (6-6)

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

If South Alabama and ULL both win, or if Texas turns down an invite, the Big 12 will be one team shy of filling all of their bowl contracts and the Armed Forces Bowl will likely be the one that has to look elsewhere.

They would probably prefer to provide a stronger opponent to face a ranked Navy team, but North Texas’ proximity and the ticket revenue that comes with it will win out.

Prediction: North Texas (5-7) vs. Navy (9-2, 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

Middle Tennessee is still my pick for the Hawaii Bowl as they want as much time as possible to try to get Stockstill healthy. Hawaii is guaranteed the Mountain West spot after becoming eligible with a 6-7 record.

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

The Big Ten will likely have four teams in New Year’s Six bowls, leaving them unable to provide a team for the Heart of Dallas. With Mississippi State becoming eligible based on APR, they would be a good matchup for C-USA West winners Louisiana Tech.

Prediction: Louisiana Tech (8-4) vs. Mississippi State (5-7)

 

Conference USA bowl selection and payout rules

There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation lately regarding C-USA’s handling of bowl selections and the distribution of payouts from said bowls, so we’re here to hopefully provide some clarity.

First, the C-USA Membership Handbook gives a clear explanation on how the conference handles revenue sharing of bowl payouts.

Bowl participants will retain the first $100,000 of revenue for bowl game tickets sold by the participating institutions. Participating institutions will split 50-50 with the Conference any ticket revenue over $100,000 for bowl game tickets sold by the participating institutions. After expenses, any surplus tickets and bowl revenues will be shared as follows: 10% to bowl participants (equal shares) and 90% to all members (equal shares) including bowl participants. Distributions are made on or after, June 15th but no later than June 30th of each year.

The conference retains all bowl payouts and distributes them evenly amongst all schools, with a small bonus for the participating teams, after paying for travel expenses and per diems for each participating school. Historically, this has been very little money, if any, due to the high travel costs associated with some of C-USA’s bowl games.

The league’s bowl participants are also allowed to keep the first $100,000 of ticket revenue and half of all revenue above $100,000, enticing schools to choose bowls close to home that are easier for fans to attend.

This helps explain why a team like Western Kentucky would choose Boca Raton over Heart of Dallas, since they would likely receive a similar amount of revenue either way, and they can travel to a state that they recruit more heavily.

The conference fills bowls in such a way that will maximize revenues and benefit all parties involved. Only the conference champion is allowed to choose their own bowl game, and even that is not technically guaranteed.

The conference has an additional rule regarding the placement of 6-6 teams guaranteeing that all teams with seven or more wins are placed first, eliminating the possibility of a 7-5 or better team being left at home while a 6-6 team goes bowling.

All teams with a winning record (i.e., seven countable wins) shall be placed into conference bowls prior to any other bowl
eligible teams without a winning record (i.e., six countable wins). Countable wins may include one victory against a FCS
opponent provided the opponent has averaged 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of grants-in-aid per year in
football during a rolling two-year period.

This is in addition to NCAA rules that state all teams with six or more wins have to be selected before any 6-7 teams, and then the top 5-7 teams based on APR (Academic Progress Rate) will fill any remaining slots.

This could pave the way for North Texas to qualify for a bowl game this season even if they lose to UTEP and fall to 5-7, as they have a 982 APR, ranking fourth among all FBS teams that could currently finish 5-7.

UTSA ranks much lower in APR and will have to defeat Charlotte this Saturday to qualify for their first-ever bowl game.

 

Updated C-USA bowl projections heading into final weekend of regular season

[Check out our updated projections here: Updated C-USA bowl projections heading into championship weekend]

Not much has changed since our projections last week, with the exception of reports out of Norfolk that provided some clarity on where the top three teams in the conference may be headed.

The league currently has just four bowl-eligible teams, with three more on the bubble heading into the final weekend of the regular season.

Bowl-eligible: Louisiana Tech (8-3), Western Kentucky (8-3), Old Dominion (8-3), Middle Tennessee (7-4)

On the bubble: UTSA (5-6), Southern Miss (5-6), North Texas (5-6)

Eliminated: Charlotte (4-7), FIU (4-7), FAU (3-8), Marshall (3-8), UTEP (3-8), Rice (3-8)

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

As long as UTSA can take care of Charlotte in their home finale this weekend, the Roadrunners seem to be a shoo-in to face New Mexico in their home stadium to open the bowl season for Conference USA.

Prediction: UTSA vs. New Mexico

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

A recent report from The Virginian-Pilot has the New Orleans Bowl as the likely destination for Old Dominion in the Monarch’s first ever bowl appearance.

With Arkansas State’s dominant performance over #25 Troy on Thursday, the likely winners of the Sun Belt should be heading to the Big Easy as well.

Prediction: Old Dominion vs. Arkansas State

Boca Raton Bowl

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

One of the dominoes that would have to fall to send ODU to New Orleans is that Western Kentucky would head to the Boca Raton Bowl regardless of who wins the Conference Championship in two weeks. This follows the recent trend of C-USA East winners choosing to go to south Florida, and it makes sense with the number of current WKU players who came from the Sunshine State.

With UCF unlikely to be placed in any of the American’s top five bowl games, they’re a good bet to face the Hilltoppers in Boca.

Prediction: Western Kentucky vs. UCF

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

I’m still not sure which conferences are supposed to send a team to the Bahamas Bowl this year, but it may not matter if either C-USA or the American can’t qualify enough teams.

It looks like the American will be one team shy of filling all eight of their bowl games, so we’ll give the nod to North Texas and Central Michigan here.

Prediction: North Texas vs. Central Michigan

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’s changed here since our prediction last week, with two schools making their first appearance in the Hawaii Bowl.

Prediction: Middle Tennessee vs. Wyoming

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

It’s looking more and more like the Big Ten won’t have enough teams to send one to the Heart of Dallas Bowl, so the conference will likely face another Group of Five opponent to close out the bowl season.

With Western Kentucky’s apparent preference for south Florida, it sounds like Louisiana Tech has this one locked up.

Prediction: Louisiana Tech vs. Miami (OH)

Camping World Independence Bowl

Monday, December 26, 5:00 p.m.
Independence Stadium, Shreveport, La.
SEC #10 vs. ACC #8-9
2015 Payout: $1.2 million

C-USA has a secondary agreement in place with the Independence Bowl in case either the ACC or SEC cannot fulfill its obligation.

The SEC should be able to provide a team as long as Ole Miss or Vanderbilt can win their rivalry games this weekend, while the ACC could be in question if the Big Ten sends a team to the Orange Bowl and gives the ACC an additional slot in the Citrus Bowl.

If either conference does fall short, then Louisiana Tech is poised to take this slot, which could push either North Texas or UTSA into the Heart of Dallas.

Prediction: ACC and SEC fill their slots. C-USA misses out.

Conference USA bowl projections

[Check out our updated projections here: Updated C-USA bowl projections heading into championship weekend]

Conference USA has six bowl tie-ins for the 2016 season, along with a secondary agreement with the Independence Bowl that could bring that number up to seven.

The Conference Champion will choose the bowl game they want to attend, with all other slots being filled through deliberation between the conference, bowls, and schools. This is in contrast to many other conferences which have a selection order for each bowl to select its preferred team.

The league currently has just four bowl-eligible teams, with four more on the bubble and two weeks remaining.

Bowl-eligible: Louisiana Tech (8-3), Western Kentucky (8-3), Old Dominion (7-3), Middle Tennessee (6-4)

On the bubble: UTSA (5-5), Southern Miss (5-5), North Texas (4-6), Charlotte (4-6)

Eliminated: FIU (3-7), FAU (3-7), Marshall (3-7), UTEP (3-7), Rice (2-8)

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

The Heart of Dallas Bowl is the highest-paying bowl for C-USA by a wide margin and the only potential matchup against a Power 5 school. As such, it will likely be selected by the Conference Champion.

Excluding the College Football Playoff and potential at-large Cotton Bowl selection, the HoD Bowl will share the eight and ninth selections from the Big Ten with the Quick Lane Bowl, as selected by the conference. There are currently just seven bowl-eligible Big Ten teams, but they should be able to hit ten by then end of the year.

At this point, it seems likely that we will see two schools from the Big Ten in the CFP Semifinals and/or Cotton Bowl, which could leave the Heart of Dallas to choose an at-large team to fill the spot opposite C-USA. If no six-win teams are available, then bowls must fill any open slots with 5-7 teams based on their APR (Academic Progress Rate) scores.

The Conference USA Championship should be a fight, but I’ll give the edge Louisiana Tech, and the only way they pass on the Heart of Dallas is if the Independence Bowl calls upon their secondary agreement with C-USA. It seems more likely than not that the Big Ten won’t be able to provide a team for this one, so we may be stuck with a 6-6 MAC team that gets passed over by their five bowl tie-ins.

Prediction: Louisiana Tech vs. Miami (OH)

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

The conference will likely award the New Orleans Bowl to the league’s runner-up as it’s the best remaining destination without the added cost of traveling to Hawaii or the Bahamas.

Tonight’s game between Arkansas State and Troy could determine the Sun Belt champion and the likely selection for the spot opposite C-USA.

Prediction: Western Kentucky vs. Troy

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

The New Mexico Bowl has historically matched up two teams from the west, with only one team in 10 years from anywhere east of El Paso. With the Miners no longer in the running for bowl eligibility, it seems likely that the league will send the western-most team that’s available.

The Mountain West selection became pretty straightforward once the home team Lobos hit six wins. New Mexico could finish the season on a 7-game winning streak and would look forward to a rematch of the 2013 “we’ll go 99” game.

Charlotte could still throw a wrench into the Roadrunners bowl hopes and push North Texas or Southern Miss into this slot, but I think UTSA will be able to get it done at home in the regular season finale.

Prediction: UTSA vs. New Mexico

Boca Raton Bowl

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

I have a feeling that the powers that be would like to see Old Dominion in a stateside game for their first ever bowl appearance, and they should feel at home in a stadium that they’ll be visiting this weekend for what should be an easy win.

The American already has seven bowl-eligible teams, so they shouldn’t have any problem providing a team, and there just might be an in-state team available.

Prediction: Old Dominion vs. UCF

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

The bigger payout for the Hawai’i Bowl is nice until you consider how much it costs to get the team and staff nearly halfway around the globe, so the conference will likely avoid teams who have had to make the trip in the past.

The Mountain West shouldn’t have any trouble filling this bowl, and I think will go for a team that’s never been before as well.

Prediction: Middle Tennessee vs. Wyoming

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

I’ll be honest, I have no idea which conferences are actually slated to play in this game. All three claim to have an agreement in place, and the Bahamas Bowl official website doesn’t provide any clarity either.

However, it was my understanding that the C-USA would have a guaranteed spot as long as there were enough eligible teams, and I think this weekend’s matchup between Southern Miss and North Texas will provide number six for the league.

Prediction: Southern Miss vs. Memphis

Camping World Independence Bowl

Monday, December 26, 5:00 p.m.
Independence Stadium, Shreveport, La.
SEC #10 vs. ACC #8-9
2015 Payout: $1.2 million

C-USA has a secondary agreement in place with the Independence Bowl in case either the ACC or SEC cannot fulfill its obligation.

Assuming the SEC places a team in the College Football Playoff, the Independence Bowl would get the 11th selection among bowl-eligible SEC teams.

There are currently eight bowl-eligible SEC teams, with three teams at 5-5 (two of which have FCS matchups this week) and two more at 4-6. Only Missouri has currently been eliminated from bowl contention. Vanderbilt would have to beat 10-point favorite Ole Miss at home this week to put any real doubt in the SEC’s ability to fill all eleven bowl slots.

Including a potential CFP selection, the Independence Bowl will have either the 9th or 10th selection from the ACC, depending on whether or not the Big Ten takes an Orange Bowl spot thereby giving an additional spot to the ACC in the Citrus Bowl.

There are currently nine bowl-eligible ACC teams, with NC State one win away and three other schools at 4-6. Virginia is the only program out of contention.

If either conference can’t fill their slot, then the Independence Bowl would surpass the Heart of Dallas Bowl as the highest-paying option for the league. Given the fact that Shreveport is just an hour away from Ruston, Louisiana Tech seems like the obvious choice unless they lose in the conference championship and the East winner chooses this one instead of Dallas.

Prediction: ACC and SEC fill their slots. C-USA misses out.