Summer Bowl Forecast

Predicting - as best we can - who's postseason bound, and where

June 27, 2007

By Adam Caparell



Adam is's football editor and national football writer.
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Slotting 64 teams into 32 bowl games, while taking into account bowl-tie ins, projected finishes in each respective conference and all the other criteria that goes into determining who's a bowl team and who isn't, is a whole lot easier said than done.  


But nonetheless, here's an early stab at projecting who will be bowling this December and next January.


And one other thing to keep in mind: opinions are subject to change. That means when we finally roll out our conference preview and predictions right before the season kicks off, don't be surprised if things look a little different. After all, we haven't even hit July yet.




BCS Bowls


BCS Championship Game: Louisiana Superdome - USC vs. Virginia Tech


Trojans have the best team in the nation and the Hokies are the best team - far and away - in an ACC that won't be nearly as difficult to navigate through as in year's past. They get in over teams like Wisconsin, LSU and others who will get beat up in conference play.


Orange - Florida vs. West Virginia


With no other ACC team eligible for a BCS bowl, the Orange Bowl looks to fill an available slot with the first choice based on this year's selection rotation. Orange Bowl officials get lucky with Florida landing in their laps. They'll take on the Big East champs in West Virginia.


Fiesta - Texas vs. Louisville


Louisville's an at-large selection, as they finish just behind West Virginia in the Big East, while Texas returns to yet another Fiesta Bowl. Settle in and enjoy the Colt McCoy-Brian Brohm matchup.


Rose - Cal vs. Wisconsin


USC wins the Pac-10 for the sixth straight year and Cal is a bridesmaid once again. And since the Trojans remain No. 1 throughout the season, they garner the berth to the BCS Championship Game while Cal takes the conference's usual place in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl could always go in a different direction, like possibly Florida or some other higher ranked BCS team, but officials hold sacred the Big Ten-Pac-10 matchups - not to mention the two conferences themselves.


Sugar - LSU vs. Michigan


LSU wins the SEC, defeating Florida in the championship game, so they get the conference's automatic berth into the game they dominated last January against Notre Dame. Michigan qualifies as a BCS at-large in a matchup many of us thought we might see last year in the Rose Bowl.  


The Other 27


Outback - Ohio State vs. Auburn   


Auburn falls short in the SEC West once again to LSU and thanks to a few losses finds itself on the outside looking in of a BCS bowl. But they get a shot at an Ohio State team who comes in fourth in the Big Ten but gets the bump up thanks to two Big Ten teams earning a BCS bid - and it's brand name.  


Cotton - Nebraska vs. Arkansas


The Cornhuskers are in this game by virtue of finishing second in the Big 12 Championship Game thanks to the weak Big 12 North. Still not a powerful Nebraska team, but they're making strides and they'll have their hands full with potential Heisman winner Darren McFadden.


Gator - Florida State vs. Oklahoma


The Big East loses its entrant - and Notre Dame isn't going to come close to justifying earning a bid into this game - so by default the Big 12 gets slotted in there to replace them. It's a rematch of the 2001 national championship game that saw the Sooners beat the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl.


Capital One - Penn State vs. Georgia 


The Nittany Lions and Bulldogs square off in a matchup of two very good defenses in this New Year's Day bowl. The only other time these two played each other was the 1983 Sugar Bowl.


Armed Forces - BYU vs. Arizona


Arizona finally makes it to a bowl game and Mike Stoops can breathe a little sigh of relief that the burden of making it to the postseason is off his back.


Sun - Oregon State vs. Texas A&M


Oregon State, as the No. 3 team in the Pac-10, packs up for another trip to El Paso to take on a tough Texas A&M team. Two stud running backs square off in Yvenson Bernard and Jorvorskie Lane.


Humanitarian - Boise State vs. Clemson


Boise State returns to its familiar spot in front of the home crowd via its WAC tie-in while Clemson just qualifies for bowl eligibility and gets shipped out to Boise. The Tigers are back in the Humanitarian for the second time in six years. .


Music City - South Carolina vs. Wake Forest


Wake Forest gets a tough assignment taking on South Carolina in the Demon Deacons' first back-to-back bowl appearance and just their eighth in school history. It's not the kind of bowl game Gamecocks fans would like to see Steve Spurrier lead his team to, especially with expectations rising and rising in Columbia, but that's life when you play in the SEC East.  


Chick-fil-A - Tennessee vs. Boston College


Boston College gets slotted in as the No. 2 ACC team and the automatic entry into the Atlanta-based bowl. Hopefully by this point more than a few people will know who Matt Ryan is.


Insight - Purdue vs. Texas Tech


Purdue should quietly have a solid season in the Big Ten thanks to an easy September schedule. They'll get to enjoy the fruits of a winning season by facing pass happy Mike Leach and the Red Raiders all-out offense.


Independence - Oklahoma State vs. Alabama


One of the biggest questions heading into the season is just how good will the Crimson Tide be? Well, without Nick Saban, they were going to be good enough to make a bowl game. With Saban, they're guaranteed to make a bowl game, albeit one in Shreveport, La.


Meineke - Miami vs. Rutgers


Third bowl in a row for the Scarlet Knights, who get to take on the team Greg Schiano was rumored to be a candidate for after the `Canes jettisoned Larry Coker. Two teams with questionable quarterbacks, but plenty of other talent. Almost as many kids from Florida on Rutgers as there are on Miami. Almost.


Liberty - Southern Miss vs. Kentucky


Kentucky gets a stiff test on defense with a better than advertised Southern Miss team. High expectations for the Wildcats fall a little short of what some fans hope to see, but making their second straight bowl appearance for just the fourth time in school history isn't too shabby for Kentucky.


Alamo - Illinois vs. Kansas State


Not many are giving the Illini a chance in the Big Ten, but let's bank on them overachieving a little, and Juice Williams settling down at quarterback, to give Ron Zook his first taste of the postseason since he arrived in Champagne.


Texas - Kansas vs. Tulsa


It was either Kansas or Colorado for the final Big 12 bowl slot and since Colorado was an abysmal 2-10 last season, the nod will go to the Jayhawks, who are closer at this point to being a bowl team than the Buffaloes. Not an easy game, though, against the Golden Hurricane.


Champs Sports - Georgia Tech vs. Iowa


Georgia Tech's going to feature a very good team but only manage a fourth-place finish in the conference, relegating the Yellow Jackets to Orlando where they take on Iowa, who slotted up a notch thanks to two Big Ten teams making the BCS.


Emerald - Maryland vs. Arizona State


It's another bowl game for the Terrapins and their underrated coach, Ralph Friedgen. They face Dennis Erickson's Sun Devils, who will make their fourth straight bowl game.


Holiday - UCLA vs. Missouri


The Bruins laid an egg in their Emerald Bowl matchup with Florida State last year, getting blown out 44-27 and negating any momentum off of their USC win. But UCLA will be a force in the Pac-10; there just not as good as USC and Cal and any notion that they're BCS-bound is a little far-fetched.


Motor City - Central Michigan vs. Notre Dame


The MAC winner traditionally goes to this bowl so give it to the Chippewas. We'll say the Big Ten can't fill its allotment of bowl eligible teams so you could see someone like a Big East team sneak in there and since Notre Dame is considered a Big East team when it comes to bowl selections, the Irish head off to Detroit. However, could Charlie Weis consider the Motor City Bowl to be beneath his Irish? He'd be crazy to turn down the opportunity to practice for an extra month with such a young team, especially on offense.


Hawai'i - Hawai'i vs. Houston


Yes, the Warriors have played in this game every year since its inception aside from 2005. But they're going to finish second to Boise in the WAC, meaning they're relegated to spending the holiday season at home, yet again. If only this matchup had taken place last year, we would have had a Colt Brennan-Kevin Kolb showdown between two topnotch gunslingers. - South Florida vs. UCF


The Bulls would rather not end up in Birmingham once again, but they'll take what they can get from a fourth-place finish in the Big East and another chance to play some postseason ball. UCF returns to a bowl game after a one-year hiatus.


New Mexico - Utah vs. San Jose State  


If New Mexico becomes eligible, you'd slot them in here. But it's not shaping up to be a year of postseason play for the Lobos. Therefore, the berth goes to Utah, who will finish third in the MWC and face San Jose State, representing the third WAC team, who will play in its second straight bowl game, a first for the Spartans.


Las Vegas - Oregon vs. TCU


The Pac-10, a conference that doesn't get nearly enough credit for how good it is, will fill all its bowl tie-ins. Since TCU will likely fall short of its BCS aspirations, the Horned Frogs - being the top MWC team - earn a trip to Vegas for the first time in postseason play.


New Orleans - Troy vs. SMU


The Trojans figure to be the team to come out of the Sun Belt considering the success they've had the past few seasons. We'll tab SMU for the C-USA representation in this bowl. The Mustangs just missed out last year on earning their first bowl bid since 1984. This year they get it done.


Poinsettia - Navy vs. Kent State


If the Midshipmen are eligible, they'll be right here - they have an agreement with the San Diego bowl that guarantees them a spot with at least six wins. We'll say the MWC doesn't fill up all its spots and Kent State is tabbed by virtue of its second-place finish in the MAC.