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)
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)