College Football Predictions: Bleacher Report's Week 4 Bowl Projections
Prepare yourself for the fourth installment of Bleacher Report's weekly series of bowl projections.
As with the prior articles, the opinion of the writer is flavored with the input from the B/R community and its expert analysts.
No shade tree cock and bull here—we seek the opinion of writers from all over the country to present the most unfiltered and unbiased opinions, guaranteed to educate and irritate the most docile of fans.
The Auburn Tigers. It would be easy to make them the No. 1 team in the country this year.
So far, they have played like it each week.
"King" Cameron Newton (see picture) could easily be handed the Heisman Trophy this season. He is a man among boys in the SEC.
The most impressive team week in and week out is Ohio State. The Buckeyes do not need exciting comebacks to remain unbeaten; they dominate their opponents every minute of the game.
Until they went off to chase a jackrabbit, the Cornhuskers of Nebraska seemed ready to settle in to oppose the Buckeyes in the BCS title game.
And what of Boise State? Have they not proved they are worthy to play in the BCS title game?
Now, all bets are off, and a new group of invaders is at the door. Let us investigate the who, why, and when in the following pages.
The 11 Bowls with Under $1 Million Payouts
Under normal conditions, the 11 bowls that pay out less than $1 million to participants would carry little interest for a number of college football fans.
Absorbed with the pursuit of the elusive and mythical "No. 1," fans of several big time programs are forced to cast an eye toward these so-called "Little Bowls" this season.
Case in point is the Birmingham Bowl (formerly the Papa John's Bowl), where perennial SEC power Georgia could be given one last chance to salvage its season with a bowl victory two days before the BCS title game.
Bowl Date Place Payout Conf. Tie-Ins Projected Matchup
Birmingham Jan. 8 Birmingham $900,000 SEC, Big East Georgia vs. Syracuse
New Mexico Dec. 18 Albuquerque $750,000 MWC, WAC UNLV vs. Idaho
Armed Forces Dec. 30 Dallas $750,000 CUSA, MWC Houston vs. Air Force
Hawaii Dec. 24 Honolulu $750,000 CUSA, WAC UTEP vs. Hawaii
Poinsettia Dec. 23 San Diego $750,000 MWC, Navy San Diego St. vs. Navy
Kraft Jan. 9 San Francisco $750,000 WAC, Pac-10 Fresno St. vs. Arizona St.
GMAC Jan. 6 Mobile $750,000 MAC, Sun Belt Toledo vs. Troy
Humanitarian Dec. 18 Boise $750,000 WAC, MAC Nevada vs. Central Mich.
Little Caesars Dec. 26 Detroit $750,000 MAC, Big Ten Temple vs. Northwestern
Texas Dec. 29 Houston $612,500 Big Ten, Big 12 Indiana vs. Iowa State
New Orleans Dec. 18 New Orleans $325,000 Sun Belt, CUSA Middle Tenn St. vs. UAB
The Six Million-Dollar Bowls: Payouts of $1 Million to $1.2 Million
Bowl Date Place Payout Conf. Tie-Ins Projected Matchup
Dallas Jan. 1 Dallas $1,200,000 Big Ten, Big 12 Michigan St. vs. Kansas St.
Independence Dec. 27 Shreveport $1,100,000 ACC, MWC Ga Tech vs. BYU
MAACO Dec. 22 Las Vegas $1,000,000 MWC, Pac-10 Utah vs. California
St. Petersburg Dec. 21 St. Pete $1,000,000 Big East, CUSA South Fla. vs. Sou. Miss.
EagleBank Dec. 29 Washington $1,000,000 ACC, CUSA Maryland vs. E. Carolina
Meineke Dec. 31 Charlotte $1,000,000 ACC, Big East N.C. State vs. UConn
This is where the conversation and speculation really take off, even for the casual fan.
The new Dallas Bowl will be played at the sight of the old Cotton Bowl and should be able to bring in two high-profile schools for the event, specifically Michigan State and Kansas State.
The Independence shed its former conference tie-in with the SEC and locked up the ACC and the Mountain West. BYU is chosen to go here because they are on "the outs" with the Mtn. West and it is a long trip from Provo to Shreveport.
Waiting for them should be last year's ACC champion, Ga Tech.
The MAACO pits the Mountain West Champion against the Pac-10. Since we have TCU taking the crown and moving along to a BCS bowl, powerful Utah should fill the bill nicely—much to Cal's regret.
USF seems a natural for the St. Pete event as the Big East representative, and Southern Mississippi should provide plenty of fireworks as the Conference USA opponent.
Maryland, improving each week, appears ready to stop by the EagleBank affair in nearby D.C. East Carolina, always up for a fight somewhere, is tapped for the competition.
Exciting N.C. State should be awarded the Meineke bid in nearby Charlotte with disappointing UConn providing the opposition.
The Golden Seven Bowls: Payouts of $1.6 Million to $2.25 Million
High stepping is the order of the day with these bowl games. Only a handful of schools would not consider one of these events the end of a successful season.
Looking into the Stanford-Oregon clash this weekend, we see the Ducks overpowering the Cardinal and thereby putting Stanford in the driver's seat for the Alamo Bowl.
The No. 2 team in the Pac-10 goes to San Antonio, and the third-place squad heads for San Diego to the Holiday Bowl. Let's put coach Mike Riley and his Beavers in the Holiday.
The Big 12 will provide rugged opposition for the Pac-10 in these two bowl games, with Oklahoma State and Missouri preparing for the challenge.
Va. Tech and Clemson are interchangeable in the ACC-connected Champs Sports and Sun Bowl games. Each carries a large contingent of fans and would be worthy opponents for whomever they face. Pittsburgh and UCLA carry the national names necessary to lasso high television ratings.
For much the same reason, the new Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York City will wish to sign up Notre Dame and Texas A&M—provided, of course, the Irish can gather six wins.
The Liberty Bowl attracts the Conference USA Champion, and in this case it should be coach June Jones' Southern Methodist Mustangs.
If Kentucky can stay on the mark, they should earn a trip to Memphis to represent the SEC against the Mustangs.
The always-entertaining Music City Bowl has at times degenerated into fisticuffs with their mid-range SEC and ACC participants. This year should be no different, as the brawlers from Boston make the perfect foil for the high-strung Mississippians of coach Houston Nutt.
Bowl Game Date Place Payout Conf. Tie-Ins Projected Matchup
Alamo Dec. 29 San Antonio $2,225,000 Pac-10, Big 12 Stanford vs. Okla. State
Holiday Dec. 30 San Diego $2,200,000 Pac-10, Big 12 Oregon St. vs. Missouri
Champs Dec. 28 Orlando $2,130,000 ACC, Big East Va. Tech vs. Pittsburgh
Pinstripe Dec. 30 New York $2,000,000 Big East, Big 12 Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M
Sun Dec. 31 El Paso $1,900,000 ACC, Pac-10 Clemson vs. UCLA
Liberty Dec. 31 Memphis $1,700,000 SEC, CUSA Kentucky vs. SMU
Music City Dec. 30 Nashville $1,600,000 SEC, ACC Ole Miss vs. Boston College
The Gator Bowl
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Jacksonville, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 6 vs. Big Ten No. 4
Projected Matchup: South Carolina vs. Michigan
Free at last from the bondage of the ACC, the Gator Bowl has renewed its contact with the SEC and added the Big Ten as an attractive opponent.
We can think of nothing more entertaining than a nice 48-47 type affair from these two high-scoring outfits.
Look for a full house and an interested TV audience with this one.
The Outback Bowl
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Tampa, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 4 vs. Big Ten No. 3
Projected Matchup: Arkansas vs. Wisconsin
The Outback is an example of going with the consensus of B/R analysts. Apparently many people are impressed with the one-dimensional attack of the Razorbacks, so let's string along for the time being.
The giant Badgers of Wisconsin play as well as they need to in order to win. It will be interesting to see if they can accomplish that in this environment.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl
Date: December 31, 2010
Place: Atlanta, Georgia
Payout: $3,250,000 for the ACC and $2,400,000 for the SEC
Conference Tie-Ins: ACC No. 2 vs. SEC No. 5
Projected Matchup: Florida State vs. Mississippi State
The Seminoles are in the hunt for the ACC title. If they fail, they can take the old Peach Bowl as their consolation prize.
The opposition in the Chick-fil-A will be provided by the SEC. Although a push for South Carolina will be obvious from hometown vendors, the Maroon Bulldogs from Starkville should provide legitimate competition for the Seminoles.
No matter how the chips fall, the Chick-fil-A is always an exciting venue with a circus-like atmosphere on New Year's Eve.
The Insight Bowl
Date: December 28, 2010
Place: Tempe, Arizona
Conference Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 5 vs. Big 12 No. 4
Projected Matchup: Penn State vs. Texas
The Insight has become a big money player in 2010, and this should allow them to capture two of the biggest names in college football history as their participants.
The Cotton Bowl
Date: January 7, 2011
Place: Arlington, Texas
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 3 vs. Big 12 No. 2
Projected Matchup: LSU vs. Oklahoma
The mighty Cotton Bowl, with its storied legacy and incomparable new surroundings, is on the verge of becoming a BCS bowl in the near future.
Because of that, look for a BCS-type game with powerful LSU and multi-talented Oklahoma.
The Capital One Bowl
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Orlando, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 2 vs. Big Ten No. 2
Projected Matchup: Florida vs. Iowa
The Capital One Bowl faces a number of obstacles as it tries to lure the best of the rest of the Big Ten and SEC to Orlando each season.
It is a game that becomes lost among the bounty of bowls played during the same time period on the same day in the same state.
It has a notorious reputation as the "runner-up" bowl.
It has a meaningless and unmemorable name. Many fans still call it the Citrus Bowl, a better moniker than Capital One.
With the strong teams available this year from the Big Ten and SEC, they may haul in potential BCS teams Iowa and Florida.
To wit: Take the money and run.
The Fiesta Bowl
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Glendale, Arizona
Conference Tie-In: Big 12 No. 1 vs. BCS At-Large Selection
Projected Matchup: TCU vs. West Virginia
If the Big 12 champion is plucked for the BCS title game, the Fiesta moves up in the "picking pecking order" and will be able to choose TCU as a replacement.
If Oklahoma is no less than 12-1, the Sooners would be the obvious choice, but OU is too inconsistent at this point to stick with all the way.
If the Big East champion is West Virginia, the Fiesta will go after them for their well-known traveling fanbase.
The Sugar Bowl
Date: January 4, 2011
Place: New Orleans, Louisiana
Conference Tie-In: SEC No. 1 vs. At-Large BCS Selection
Projected Matchup: Alabama vs. Oregon
Here are two teams who looked vulnerable while winning on the road against conference opponents this past weekend.
Somewhere along the line this season Alabama will lose, leaving the Crimson Tide on the outside looking in at the BCS title game.
Still, Alabama should win the SEC and qualify for the conference's automatic berth in the Sugar Bowl.
Waiting for them in New Orleans will be a BCS-at large school, in this case Oregon.
The Ducks should open the season with 10 consecutive wins before facing Arizona in a Pac-10 hoedown for all the marbles.
Because of their awesome offense, let's put the Ducks in the Sugar Bowl and get the scoreboard ready for a game that should reach 70 total points.
The Orange Bowl
Date: January 3, 2011
Place: Miami, Florida
Conference Tie-In: ACC No. 1 vs. At-Large BCS Selection
Projected Matchup: Miami vs. Auburn
With the sudden emergence of giant quarterback Cameron Newton, Auburn is looking more and more like the team to beat in the SEC.
The Tigers do not have the best defense, and this could be their undoing as the season develops.
But great players make up for inefficiency in other areas, and Newton is on the road to superstardom.
Let's put an 11-1 Tiger outfit in the Orange Bowl to meet the ACC champions in a contest for men only.
The Rose Bowl
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Pasadena, California
Conference Tie-Ins: Pac-10 No. 1 vs. Big Ten No. 1
Projected Matchup: Arizona vs. Boise State
If there is a BCS title game participant who must vacate its automatic invitation to the Rose Bowl, then the most qualified and highest-ranked team from a non-BCS conference is allowed to step in.
Based upon the final rankings, the Broncos should meet those qualifications and take the place of Ohio State in Pasadena.
Boise State has been knocking on the BCS title door for several years and has proved its mettle against everyone they've faced.
Arizona wants to accomplish two things this season: Beat Iowa and defeat Oregon. One down, one to go.
Along the way the Wildcats have demonstrated a brutal defensive unit to go with lightning-fast special teams. Add that to their enormous offensive line and opponents have to pick their poison with 'Zona.
If this clash does come to pass, it may be the best game of the postseason.
The BCS Title Game
The Date: January 10, 2011
The Place: Glendale, Arizona
Conference Tie-Ins: None. No. 1 against No. 2
Projected Matchup: Ohio State vs. Nebraska
These two teams could end the season as undefeated and ranked No. 1 and 2 in the final poll.
If that is the case, then they will play for the BCS title regardless of what Boise State does.
While Nebraska is on the cusp of becoming the great power they once were, the Buckeyes have won the BCS title in the past decade and are looking for more championship trophies this season.
The incredible ability of Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor makes it easy to see why teams are intimidated by Ohio State in 2010.
The Cool Down Lap: The Readers Take Over
The response and feedback from the B/R community regarding the first three articles in this weekly series has been astonishing and a joy to read.
By tallying the results of the prior weeks' remarks, we find an ever-growing opinion from readers concerning who will be the actual participants in bowl games according to your analysis.
Expert writers from the Alabama, Nebraska, and Ohio State B/R communities (to name a few) provided additional breakdowns of specific bowl confrontations.
Many thanks to Brandon Hamblen, Tim Croley, and Husker Fan for their special advice.
We also appreciate the input from the young guns, like Alex Balderree of the Oregon community.
The Big Six Bowl Projections of Week 4 Based Upon Reader Input and Comments
BCS Title Game: Alabama vs. Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Michigan
Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Boise State
Orange Bowl: Miami vs. TCU
Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska vs. West Virginia
Capital One Bowl: Arkansas vs. Iowa
Cotton Bowl: Auburn vs. Texas