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.

 

UTSA Football adds new page to record books

It was a record-breaking day for UTSA in their 55-32 victory over Southern Miss on Saturday. Running back duo Jalen Rhodes and Jarveon Williams led the way in UTSA’s first conference win in the Wilson era, and became the first 100-yard rushing pair in school history.

Team Single-Game Records

Jalen Rhodes
Jalen Rhodes

55 Points Scored (against FBS opponent)
Previous: 52 (vs. UAB, 10/26/13)

532 Total Offensive Yards
Previous: 525 (@ Arizona, 9/3/15)

339 Rushing Yards
Previous: 299 (vs. Texas State, 11/24/12)

11.3 Offensive Yards Per Play
Previous: 8.3 (vs. CSU, 9/26/15)

9.7 Yards Per Rush
Previous: 8.2 (vs. CSU, 9/26/15)

6 Rushing Touchdowns (tie)
Previous: 6 (vs. NW Ok St, 9/22/12)

Individual Single-Game Records

Rushing Touchdowns
3 – Jalen Rhodes (tie)

Previous: 3 – multiple (most recent: Eric Soza, @ Idaho, 11/17/12)

Individual Career Records

Touchdown Receptions
8 – Kerry Thomas, Jr. (tie)

Previous: 8 – David Morgan II

Superlatives

Longest Play
92-yard Jarveon Williams rush

Previous: 87-yard Kam Jones kickoff return (@ FAU, 9/27/14)

Top 10 Longest Offensive Plays
*92-yard Jarveon Williams rush (vs. USM, 10/8/16)
85-yard Jarveon Williams rush (vs. CSU, 9/26/15)
84-yard Kam Jones rush (@ Tulsa, 11/2/13)
82-yard Soza-Kenny Bias pass (@ NMSU, 9/29/12)
*80-yard Jalen Rhodes rush (vs. USM, 10/8/16)
78-yard Jarveon Williams rush (vs. Rice, 11/21/15)
*77-yard Sturm-Josh Stewart pass (vs. USM, 10/8/16)
77-yard Evans Okotcha rush (vs. Minot State, 11/17/11)
*71-yard Sturm-Kerry Thomas Jr. pass (vs. USM, 10/8/16)
70-yard David Glasco II rush (vs. USM, 11/13/14)

What to watch for

Jarveon Williams
Jarveon Williams

Career Rushing Yards
1. 1,752 – David Glasco II (2011-14)
2. 1,746 – Jarveon Williams (2013-present)

Career Kick Return Yards
1. 989 – Kam Jones (2011-14)
2. 978 – Brett Winnegan (2015-present)

Career All-Purpose Yards
1. 3,144 – Kam Jones (2011-14)
2. 2,711 – Jarveon Williams (2013-present)