Where will UTSA bowl? – 2017 edition

UTSA is finally bowl eligible after a 9-7 win over Marshall on Saturday thanks to the leg of soon-to-be Freshman All-American kicker Jared Sackett.

With an unprecedented number of bowl eligible teams coming out of Conference USA this year (9 teams guaranteed, 10 if Louisiana Tech beats UTSA this weekend), it makes the bowl picture quite a bit murkier than in previous years.

Here are all the bowls that may end up taking C-USA teams this year, and what I believe UTSA’s chances are of ending up in any of them.

Conference USA Primary Tie-ins

R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL

Saturday, December 16, 12:00 p.m.
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
C-USA vs. Sun Belt #1

The first FBS bowl game of the 2017 season takes place in New Orleans, and will likely take a C-USA West team. They could go with in-state Louisiana Tech (if they are eligible), or #TheReturn of UAB, or give Coach Wilson a chance to bring his Roadrunners to his hometown.

UTSA’s chances: 15%

GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL

Saturday, December 16, 3:30 p.m.
University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
C-USA vs. Mountain West #2-5

Although New Mexico will typically go to a C-USA West team, the conference will generally try to avoid back-to-back bowls for the same team, so I doubt we’ll be heading to Albuquerque for a second straight year.

UTSA’s chances: 5%

BOCA RATON BOWL

Tuesday, December 19, 6:00 p.m.
FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida
C-USA vs. American

There’s been some debate around C-USA about whether FAU would want to play in their home stadium, or if the bowl would even want them, forgoing hotel revenue for some of their biggest sponsors in favor of ticket revenue from the home fans. Either way, it should be one of the C-USA East schools in Boca this year.

It will be interesting to see if the American gives up their spot for the Boca Raton Bowl, considering they have seven bowl tie-ins, with only six bowl-eligible teams (one of which will be heading to a New Years Six bowl). Boca provides the lowest payout of all their bowls, other than perhaps Frisco which is in its first year, so I could easily see them giving it up this year.

UTSA’s chances: 1%

BAD BOY MOWERS GASPARILLA BOWL

Thursday, December 21, 7:00 p.m.
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
C-USA vs. American

Everything that was said about the Boca Raton Bowl above applies here as well. An in-state matchup between FAU and USF has been predicted by multiple outlets for this one. And again, I don’t see them sending a C-USA West team to a Florida bowl.

UTSA’s chances: 1%

BAHAMAS BOWL

Friday, December 22, 11:30 a.m.
Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
C-USA vs. MAC

The only bowl played outside of the country, the Bahamas Bowl will typically pick up a team that isn’t a good fit geographically for any of the other available bowls.

With a handful of Texas bowl games that will likely be looking for at-large teams (see next section below), I don’t see UTSA ending up in the Bahamas Bowl.

UTSA’s chances: 3%

LOCKHEED MARTIN ARMED FORCES BOWL

Saturday, December 23, 2:30 p.m.
Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
C-USA vs. Army

Army is the only team in the nation that has already locked up their bowl game, heading to the Armed Forces Bowl against a C-USA foe.

North Texas has already played Army three times in the past two seasons, including last year’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, so yet another rematch seems unlikely. UTSA would then be the next logical choice, as the only other Texas team available.

UTSA’s chances: 50%

 

Potential At-Large Games

AUTONATION CURE BOWL

Saturday, December 16, 1:30 p.m.
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
American vs. Sun Belt #4

With the American short on bowl eligible teams, some outlets have them giving up their spot in the Cure Bowl, which could potentially be picked up by a C-USA team.

However, based on recent payout data, there are two or three bowls that I would think the American would give up before the Cure Bowl. Even if we do end up seeing a C-USA team there, it will likely be from the East.

UTSA’s chances: <1%

FRISCO BOWL

Wednesday, December 20, 7:00 p.m.
Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
American vs. At-large

The inaugural Frisco Bowl wasn’t able to secure a conference tie-in opposite the American, so it will go to an at-large (likely G5) team. Add to that the fact that the American may give up their spot, and we could see two at-large teams here.

It will be slim pickings for the Frisco Bowl, and UTSA would have to be near the top of the list if the Roadrunners haven’t already been selected by another bowl.

UTSA’s chances: 15%

BIRMINGHAM BOWL

Saturday, December 23, 11:00 a.m.
Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
SEC #9 vs. American

With potentially three teams playing in New Years Six bowls, the SEC will be a few teams short this year, and the Birmingham Bowl is second on the chopping block (behind the Independence Bowl).

The Birmingham Bowl may try to snag one of the extra Pac-12 teams, or they may want the feel-good story of the hometown UAB Blazers. I don’t see them going with any other C-USA teams here, but if UAB gets selected elsewhere then they may not have another choice.

UTSA’s chances: <1%

ZAXBY’S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL

Tuesday, December 26, 12:30 p.m.
Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas, Texas
Big Ten vs. Big 12 #7

Conference USA gave the Heart of Dallas Bowl to the Big Ten in exchange for the Armed Forces Bowl this year (you think ESPN wants any P5 v G5 matchups?), but it’s shaping up that neither the Big Ten nor Big 12 will be able to provide teams for this game, so C-USA will likely end up here anyway.

North Texas seems like the obvious choice here, being the local team and C-USA West winner, but if there’s a better matchup elsewhere (the Independence Bowl, perhaps), then we could see them going with UTSA.

UTSA’s chances: 5%

QUICK LANE BOWL

Tuesday, December 26, 4:15 p.m.
Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Big Ten vs. ACC #9

Another game that likely won’t be filled by either of its Power Five conferences, the Quick Lane Bowl should grab one of the extra MAC teams, and may go with a Marshall or Western Kentucky if they’re available, but probably not a C-USA West team.

UTSA’s chances: <1%

WALK-ON’S INDEPENDENCE BOWL

Wednesday, December 27, 12:30 p.m.
Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
ACC #8 vs. SEC #10

Conference USA has a secondary agreement with the Independence Bowl, which is nearly guaranteed to be needed to replace the SEC, and perhaps the ACC as well.

The Independence Bowl would likely go with Louisiana Tech if they are available, or North Texas if the Mean Green like the matchup better than any of C-USA’s primary bowls. Southern Miss and UAB could also be in the conversation, so I doubt UTSA gets the invite to Shreveport.

UTSA’s chances: 3%

 

UTSA’s potential bowl game chances

50% – Armed Forces Bowl
15% – New Orleans Bowl
15% – Frisco Bowl
5% – New Mexico Bowl
5% – Heart of Dallas Bowl
3% – Bahamas Bowl
3% – Independence Bowl
1% – Boca Raton Bowl
1% – Gasparilla Bowl
<1% – Cure Bowl
<1% – Birmingham Bowl
<1% – Quick Lane Bowl
<1% – not invited to a bowl

 

*Don’t forget to pre-order your bowl tickets now to show these bowls how well we will travel and help our chances of getting selected.

 

Will UTSA schedule a 12th game this year?

Earlier this week, Florida State and Louisiana-Monroe announced that they would be playing on December 2, a weekend typically reserved for conference championships and Sun Belt finales, finally rescheduling their matchup from September 9 that was postponed due to Hurricane Irma.

With Florida State staring down a 5-6 record if they can take care of Delaware State and Florida, scheduling this game became paramount to retaining their streak of 35 consecutive bowl games.

In addition to FSU and ULM, we’ve seen Indiana replace their canceled game against FIU with an FCS opponent (Charleston Southern), made possible by the fact that they didn’t already have an FCS game scheduled and that Charleston Southern also had a cancellation due to the hurricane.

There’s also a tentatively scheduled game between FIU and UMass, who both had games canceled due to Hurricane Irma, to be played on December 2 as long as FIU is not in the Conference USA Championship game.

So where does that leave UTSA after losing their opening game against Houston due to Hurricane Harvey? Is there anyone left for us to play? Is there anything to gain by playing a 12th game? Anything to lose? Here’s a look at some of our options.

GEORGIA TECH

Much like Florida State, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets may need a 12th game if they want to earn bowl eligibility, after having their game at UCF canceled on September 16. Currently at 4-4, and with tough games against ranked Virginia Tech and Georgia remaining, they’ll likely have to win their games over Duke and a hypothetical 12th opponent if they want to make a bowl.

This is where UTSA comes in. The Roadrunners are one of only a handful of teams who still haven’t made up their canceled game, and who won’t be contenders for a conference championship on December 2, like Miami and UCF.

There’s been a push from Georgia Tech fans to make this game happen, and it just makes a ton of sense. The most likely scenario would have Georgia Tech paying UTSA for a one-off game at Bobby Dodd, but other possibilities could include leveraging this for a 1-for-1 or 2-for-1 deal with the Yellow Jackets coming to the Alamodome, either this year or in the future.

Either way, both schools should have had plans in place for a potential conference championship game on December 2, either home or away, so the logistics shouldn’t be as complicated as finding an open date during the regular season.

If anything is working against UTSA, it’s the fact that we still don’t have an Athletic Director. That’s what makes me think a one-off game is most likely, with the current administration avoiding any long-term decisions until we get a new AD in place.

FLORIDA

Another team that is apparently in search of a 12th game is Florida, who had their game against Northern Colorado canceled on September 9. If they can find two wins in their next three games (@ South Carolina, vs UAB, @ Florida State), then they will be 5-6 and looking for that sixth win for bowl eligibility.

The Gators are reportedly trying to reschedule their game against Northern Colorado for December 2, but if that doesn’t work out then there aren’t a whole lot of other options available, and they may be reaching out to UTSA with an offer for a one-off payday for a trip to The Swamp.

NORTHERN COLORADO & SOUTH CAROLINA STATE

If Florida doesn’t get Northern Colorado to come to them, then why not have them come to San Antonio instead? This may be the most pragmatic use of our 12th game. UTSA gets a sixth home game, and the ticket sales that come with it, and some added insurance to our bowl chances.

If the Roadrunners lose their next three games, they’ll be 5-6, likely missing out on a bowl game unless the NCAA grants a waiver for teams affected by hurricanes to be selected above 5-7 teams this year.  But we could take our fate into our own hands with a sixth win, even if it’s against an FCS opponent. That’s because, by rule, a 6-6 team with two FCS wins will be selected ahead of teams with most other exemptions (Hawaii Rule, FBS reclassification) and 5-7 teams.

There weren’t as many FCS teams affected by the hurricanes as FBS, so there aren’t many other teams available, but it appears another option would be South Carolina State, who had their September 9 game against Charleston Southern canceled.

Some might question whether we deserve a bowl in this hypothetical scenario where we close out the year with four straight conference losses, but you have to take the bowl game, and all the money and extra practice time that comes with it, when you can get it.

GEORGIA STATE & ARKANSAS STATE

The only other teams with 11-game schedules, and who won’t be playing in conference championship games, are Georgia State, Arkansas State, and Houston. With the Sun Belt scheduling regular season games on December 2, and both Georgia State and Arkansas State likely reaching 6 wins anyways, a makeup game with either of them is off the table.

HOUSTON

So what about Houston? You know, the team that put us in this situation in the first place? They already have six wins, so they don’t need this game, per se, but they will be free on championship weekend, and they reportedly offered this makeup date to UTSA before the game was officially canceled.

This could be an opportunity to make up our game and perhaps donate some of the proceeds to hurricane relief efforts. A win-win, no?

 

Ultimately, it seems like we’ll have a few options for a 12th game on December 2, and at this point, I would almost be more surprised if we don’t schedule a game than if we do. This could be a great opportunity for either a payday and a trip to a well-known P5 program, or a sixth home game and some extra bowl insurance.

Hopefully, even in the absence of an AD, President Eighmy and the rest of the athletics department can make one of these scenarios a reality for the Roadrunners.

 

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.