Welcome to the fifth installment of the weekly Bleacher Report Bowl Projection series.
In the following pages you will find specific articles regarding the 15 highest paying bowls, detailing how the teams were chosen and who the possibilities are for those particular contests.
The remaining 20 bowls are divided among the 11 events who pay out less than $1 million to the participants and the nine who pay between $1 million and $1.9 million.
Summary and analysis is presented for all 35 bowl games.
The choices are prepared on a weekly basis, reflecting the outcomes of past games and the upcoming schedules.
Reader participation is encouraged by way of leaving comments with your own view of how the bowl matchups will develop over the course of the regular season.
The final analysis will contain the imprint from the comments of readers as well as the personal view of the writer. Remember, you make a difference in who is listed in this series concerning the schools and the choice of bowl destination.
Changes are made each week to reflect the ongoing mystery concerning the top teams in each conference and how bowl tie-ins will affect the future of the schools in question.
Please note the order of the bowls will be listed in the old American way of doing business, by how much money the schools are paid for playing in the game.
We provide the information concerning the different conference connections to bowls; we ask that you provide the teams who will go to these contests so we may present a consensus regarding how the readers see continuing developments.
Now that we've covered the bases, let us take a look at how the events of last Saturday affected your team and its postseason destination.
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. Fresno State
Armed Forces Dec. 30 Dallas $750,000 CUSA, MWC Houston vs. BYU
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 Nevada vs. Washington
GMAC Jan. 6 Mobile $750,000 MAC, Sun Belt Toledo vs. Troy
Humanitarian Dec. 18 Boise $750,000 WAC, MAC Idaho vs. Central Mich.
Little Caesars Dec. 26 Detroit $750,000 MAC, Big Ten Temple vs. Indiana
Texas Dec. 29 Houston $612,500 Big Ten, Big 12 Penn State vs. Colorado
New Orleans Dec. 18 New Orleans $325,000 Sun Belt, CUSA Middle Tenn St. vs. UAB
These 11 bowl games present the opportunity for up-and-coming programs to take a giant step forward by knocking off some of the more nationally known "football schools."
Boise State, Clemson, and Arizona State made their reputations over the decades by becoming known as teams to avoid in the postseason if your fanbase is looking for a cupcake.
Champions of three different conferences can be represented in these contests.
The No. 1 team from the Sun Belt goes to the New Orleans Bowl, and the top Mid-American school hosts the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit, while the WAC champion goes to the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise.
If any of these champions qualifies for a BCS bowl, its position in the conference tie-in bowl will be filled by the next highest available team from the conference.
The low-paying Texas Bowl may luck into a contest of great interest with Joe Paterno's Penn State Nittany Lions going up against coach Dan Hawkins and his surprising Colorado Buffaloes.
Take a gander at the Birmingham Bowl—Georgia versus Syracuse sounds like a heavyweight clash during any season.
The Kraft Bowl in San Francisco, formerly the Emerald Bowl, could have a triple-digit total shootout with quarterback Jake Locker and the Washington Huskies going up against the high-octane attack of the Nevada Wolf Pack.
The GMAC Bowl in Mobile looks to have one of the most hotly contested matchups with Toledo and Troy.
Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl, San Diego State and Navy in San Diego's Poinsettia Bowl, and Idaho in Boise for the Humanitarian Bowl seem like perfect placement opportunities.
Now that we have set the table with the 11 bowls paying less than $1 million to participants, let's move ahead to "The Millionaire Club" of bowl games paying invitees $1 million to $1.9 million.
Bowl Date Place Payout Conf. Tie-Ins Projected Matchup
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. Ga. Tech
Dallas Jan. 1 Dallas $1,200,000 Big Ten, Big 12 Northwestern vs. Texas A&M
Independence Dec. 27 Shreveport $1,100,000 ACC, MWC Boston College vs. Air Force
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
These nine bowl games feature superb locations for well-traveling fanbases and opportunities for a number of high-profile programs to end their seasons on a winning note.
Coaches know if they lose one of these bowl games, they may be "hot seat bound" during the offseason.
The Sun Bowl and the Independence Bowl have new arrangements with ACC representatives,
Clemson, with their noted traveling circus of fans flashing orange-colored money, is the perfect choice for the home of the Sun Carnival—El Paso. This projected confrontation with coach Dabo Swinney's Tigers and coach Rick Neuheisel of UCLA could produce the most exciting contest on New Year's Eve.
The Independence could be the recipient of the always ready to fight Boston College Eagles and the Air Force Falcons in what may be described by old-timers as "a humdinger."
In other ACC-related action, Maryland and N.C. State should take advantage of local bowls, while Georgia Tech may take its exciting brand of pigskin action to Nashville for a clash with Mississippi.
The SEC faces the Conference USA champion in the venerable Liberty Bowl. A contest of Kentucky vs. SMU could explode the scoreboard.
South Florida, under the leadership of Lou Holtz's son Skip, could make a case for a local invitation to the St. Petersburg Bowl to face a highly competitive group of Golden Eagles from Southern Mississippi in an unusual Big East versus CUSA meeting.
The new Dallas Football Classic will be played on the field of the Cotton Bowl stadium. The Cotton Bowl game itself has moved away to new digs, but locals could be in luck if they can latch on to Big Ten customer Northwestern to face an in-state opponent. For the time being, let's take Texas A&M.
Lastly, the MAACO in Las Vegas could have one of the finest shows on earth if powerful Utah does not knock off TCU and winds up in town to face the California Golden Bears in a preview of future Pac-10 rivals.
Date: December 30, 2010
Place: The Bronx in New York City
Conference Tie-Ins: Big East No. 4 vs. Big 12 No. 7
Projected Matchup: Notre Dame vs. Missouri
Now this is a championship setting: Yankee Stadium.
New York failed in 1962 with the Gotham Bowl, but all of the support systems are in place for the Pinstripe (named for the Yankee uniforms for all you non-baseball fans) to become one of the most successful postseason events in the near future.
Paying $2 million is one way for a new bowl to get attention. Locking in two BCS conferences is another. Being in the media center of the nation only adds to the allure.
Notre Dame is eligible for Big East bowl connections because of contracts in place. The Irish are also listed as the "backup team" from the Big 12 in case the conference cannot produce a qualifying team.
Obviously Notre Dame is the one football team New York City wants to see in Yankee Stadium.
Missouri, slow afoot but home to a prized journalism school with many alums in the Big Apple, is a desired opponent for the inaugural gala.
Date: December 28, 2010
Place: Orlando, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: ACC No. 3 vs. Big East No. 2
Projected Matchup: Florida State vs. Pittsburgh
The new Champs Sports Bowl contract brings in the No. 2 team from the Big East to face a highly regarded ACC opponent.
Look for the Seminoles to become the top choice of this bowl if they do not win the ACC title game.
Last season FSU went to the Gator Bowl, and the Champs would provide an opportunity to stay close to home if no BCS bid is available.
The Big East had a devil of a time obtaining a strong location for the second place team in the conference before Orlando was chosen.
Pittsburgh may squeak out the second spot in the Big East if the Panthers can handle UConn and South Florida.
Date: Dec. 30, 2010
Place: San Diego, California
Conference Tie-Ins: Pac-10 No. 3 vs. Big 12 No. 5
Projected Matchup: Oregon State vs. Kansas State
The Wildcats of K-State are a dangerous opponent because of excellent coach Bill Snyder.
Under his direction, the 'Cats have come back to be a contender for the Big 12 North and a legitimate threat to every team in the conference.
Coach Mike Riley of Oregon State takes a backseat to no one in the coaching department. His Beavers are known in the business as "a tough out."
With these two schools, the Holiday would have an interesting chess match on the field.
Date: Dec. 29, 2010
Place: San Antonio, Texas
Conference Tie-Ins: Pac-10 No. 2 vs. Big 12 No. 3
Projected Matchup: Stanford vs. Oklahoma State
The Alamo Bowl has a new contract that provides the San Antonio classic with the second place team from the Pac-10.
If two squads from the league make it to the BCS, the third place team will be extended an invitation.
Stanford looks like the most likely candidate for this position.
Oklahoma State is a powerful offensive team and can put points on the board.
These facts will make a Cardinal-Cowboy affair very attractive to viewing audiences.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Jacksonville, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 6 vs. Big Ten No. 4
Projected Matchup: Florida vs. Wisconsin
The most logical place for the second place team in the SEC East is the Gator Bowl.
If Florida can defeat LSU and develop an effective offense capable of winning when defenses bunch up on the line, there is no reason the Gators cannot become the primary choice of the Gator Bowl.
Wisconsin lost to Michigan State but maintains a "big boy" reputation among potential bowl possibilities.
The Gator Bowl has a new contract matching the SEC vs. the Big Ten.
A need to put the best contest on the field will pressure the locals into putting the Gators in the limelight against a well-known Big Ten school.
Florida vs. Wisconsin will be magic.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Tampa, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 4 vs. Big Ten No. 3
Projected Matchup: South Carolina vs. Michigan
The Wolverines' run for an unbeaten season will end sometime in October.
South Carolina appears balanced on both sides of the ball.
If the Gamecocks win the SEC East, they will be a natural for the Outback, as coach Steve Spurrier prefers postseason action in the state of Florida.
Depending upon the outcome of the Michigan-Michigan State contest, the Wolverines could be interchangeable with the Spartans in the Insight 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: Miami vs. Mississippi State
If the Hurricanes fail to win the ACC, they will qualify for the Chick-fil-A and Champs Sports Bowls.
Miami went to the Champs last season and lost, so they will likely wish for a change of pace.
Hotlanta is just the place for them.
If Mississippi State defeats Ole Miss, they should represent the SEC. The possibility remains open for a switch of places with the Rebels in the Music City Bowl depending upon the outcome of the Egg Bowl.
Date: December 28, 2010
Place: Tempe, Arizona
Conference Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 5 vs. Big 12 No. 4
Projected Matchup: Michigan State vs. Texas
Since the Insight has become a big money player in the bowl selection process, it will not be surprising to find Texas interested in going there.
Michigan State could make a case as a BCS at-large candidate if the Spartans defeat Michigan and continue to play well while coach Mark Dantonio suffers from health problems.
Big names from the Big Ten and Big 12 are the logical choice for a bowl with a new ESPN broadcast contract, regardless of where they finish in their respective conferences.
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 a rematch of the 2003 BCS title contest between LSU and Oklahoma.
The Tigers have one of the worst offenses in the nation, and if they fall behind the high-powered Sooners, it could get ugly quickly.
On the other hand, no one really knows what to do with LSU.
Coach Les Miles continues to mismanage the clock and play musical chairs with one inept quarterback after the other. However, the Tigers may have found the secret to success by avoiding any type of structured plan of attack.
Oklahoma is fully capable of winning every game and crashing into the BCS title game, but they too have a Jekyll and Hyde personality and seem beyond predicting with any certainty.
If the Sooners finish second in the Big 12 and do not receive an at-large BCS bid, they will head to the conference tie-in Cotton Bowl.
LSU will go to the Cotton Bowl because Florida does not want to go there and Arkansas will have already visited the location to play Texas A&M during the season.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Orlando, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 2 vs. Big Ten No. 2
Projected Matchup: Arkansas vs. Iowa
If everything comes to pass as presented to this point, Iowa must finish undefeated the rest of the way to earn a BCS bowl invitation.
If the Hawkeyes are not champions of the Big Ten, they will fall into the competition for the best "Florida Bowl" available.
The most attractive scenario for Iowa will then be the Orlando postseason event.
SEC fans maintain Arkansas is the team to beat outside of the Crimson Tide.
If so, the Razorbacks will be the best option for the SEC tie-in Capital One Bowl.
Good luck against Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz's defense.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Glendale, Arizona
Conference Tie-In: Big 12 No. 1 (see note below) vs. BCS At-Large Selection
Projected Matchup: Boise State 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 could offer Boise State the opportunity to come back for another holiday visit.
If Boise State finishes high in the polls, the Broncos will be required to be given a BCS invitation.
Although Oklahoma and Iowa would seem to be the dream match for the annual desert classic, the Fiesta could be locked in to taking the Big East champion, which has an automatic bid to the BCS, although they have no particular bowl tie-in.
Let's give West Virginia the edge in the Big East race.
The Fiesta is thus denied the preferred Big 12 vs. Big Ten encounter and must settle for what could be a high-scoring contest between two schools with little national following.
Date: January 3, 2011
Place: Miami, Florida
Conference Tie-In: ACC No. 1 vs. At-Large BCS Selection
Projected Matchup: Virginia Tech vs. Auburn
Interested observers of Miami's second-half fiasco at Clemson last week received the defensive game plan to disrupt Hurricane quarterback Jacory Harris in the future.
Blitz, pressure, and blitz again.
Expect defensive guru Bud Foster of Virginia Tech to employ the same scheme and lead the Gobblers to the ACC title and an automatic bid to the Orange Bowl.
How? Didn't Va Tech lose twice already?
Yes, but those were not-conference games. The Hokies are unbeaten in the ACC and just put down previously undefeated N.C. State in Raleigh on Saturday.
South Beach can get ready for another visit from the mountain men of western Virginia.
The Orange will select from a plethora of available teams in order to provide the best possible matchup attainable.
If Auburn can finish 11-1 and in second place of the SEC West, they may get the invitation over the equally capable Iowa, Oklahoma, and Big East champion.
Tiger quarterback Cam Newton versus the nasty boy defense of the Hokies just may be too good a drawing card to pass on.
Date: January 4, 2011
Place: New Orleans, Louisiana
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 1 vs. BCS At-Large
Projected Matchup: Alabama vs. Oregon
Best game possible outside of the BCS Championship.
In a somewhat "down year" for the SEC, Alabama is likely to lose only because it does not take an opponent seriously along the way.
It appears Alabama will win the SEC again this season.
The Ducks have already blown out one SEC opponent in Tennessee (which has yet to face the Tide) and appear prepared to make a serious run for the BCS title.
If the BCS title game has Big Ten and Big 12 clubs, the vacated tie-in bowls of Rose and Fiesta will move ahead of others in the available at-large selection process.
The hand of the Rose may be forced (see Rose Bowl review on page 17), and the Fiesta may opt for an undefeated Boise State instead of a projected 11-1 Oregon.
This would leave the Sugar Bowl with the premier matchup prior to the BCS championship game.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Pasadena, California
Conference Tie-Ins: Pac-10 No. 1 vs. Big Ten No. 1 (see specifics below)
Projected Matchup: Arizona vs. Texas Christian
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 Horned Frogs should meet those qualifications and take the place of Ohio State in Pasadena.
If Arizona can run the table and defeat Oregon in late November, the Wildcats will provide a most formidable opponent for the purple BCS-busting visitors from Fort Worth, Texas.
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 undefeated and ranked No. 1 and 2 in the final poll.
If that is the case, they will play for the BCS title regardless of what TCU or Boise State accomplish during the year.
In a preview of future Big Ten rivals, this clash should provide viewers with an exciting and entertaining competition between two of the most storied names in college football history.
The response and feedback from the B/R community regarding the first four articles in this weekly series has been entertaining and informative.
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 B/R communities of Alabama, Oregon, Stanford, Washington, and Syracuse (to name a few) have lent their talents and knowledge to provide additional information concerning the breakdowns of specific bowl confrontations.
Many thanks to David Hedlind, Dan Boone, Brandon Hamblen, Tim Croley, Mr. O, and Zodiac for their special advice during the past week.
We also appreciate the input from those new to the series and hope many others will find the time to provide essential insight.
The Big Six Bowl Projections of Week 5 Based Upon Reader Input and Comments
BCS Title Game: Alabama vs. Oregon
Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Boise State
Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Michigan
Orange Bowl: Miami vs. West Virginia
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. TCU
Capital One Bowl: Florida vs. Ohio State
Cotton Bowl: Auburn vs. Nebraska