Welcome to the sixth weekly installment of the 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.
These choices are presented 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.
You make the 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 order of 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.
In the traditional order of bowl projections the games would be listed in order from first played to the last played.
This removes the essential value from the equation: money.
The 35 bowl games are listed in the good old American order of business by the amount of money paid to the participants.
By using this system, we do not "devalue" the Champs Sports Bowl or increase the prestige of the Kraft Hunger event simply based upon what day the bowl games take place.
Smaller payout bowls have no interest in avoiding a good rematch from the regular season if it will create interest in the game. This has, in the past, produced different results from the initial contest.
Bowl Date Place Payout Conf. Tie-Ins Projected Matchup
No. 1: Birmingham Jan. 8 Birmingham $900,000 SEC, Big East Kentucky vs. Rutgers
No. 2: New Mexico Dec. 18 Albuquerque $750,000 MWC, WAC BYU vs. Fresno State
No. 3: Armed Forces Dec. 30 Dallas $750,000 CUSA, MWC UTEP vs. Army*
No. 4: Hawaii Dec. 24 Honolulu $750,000 CUSA, WAC Houston vs. Hawaii
No. 5: Poinsettia Dec. 23 San Diego $750,000 MWC, Navy San Diego St. vs. Navy
No. 6: Kraft Jan. 9 San Fran. $750,000 WAC, Pac-10 Nevada vs. Washington
No. 7: GMAC Jan. 6 Mobile $750,000 MAC, Sun Belt Temple vs. Troy
No. 8: Humanitarian Dec. 18 Boise $750,000 WAC, MAC Idaho vs. Toledo
No. 9: Little Caesars Dec. 26 Detroit $750,000 MAC, Big Ten N. Illinois vs. Illinois
No. 10: Texas Dec. 29 Houston $612,500 Big Ten, Big 12 Penn State vs. Kansas St.
No. 11: New Orleans Dec. 18 New Orleans $325,000 Sun Belt, CUSA Middle Tenn St. vs. C. Fla.
Because of the nature of the lesser-paying bowls, a pattern emerges. This is the "need to play in a bowl" approach to the postseason.
An example of this may be the Texas Bowl, where legendary coach Joe Paterno could end up with Houston as the only opportunity available.
An interesting counterpoint is the non-BCS conference champions who look upon even lesser paying bowls with an attitude of pride.
Some of the listed matchups are fascinating. A Nevada vs. Washington affair in San Francisco is sure to bring a huge following from each school.
Likewise, a Troy vs. Temple challenge in the GMAC places two of the more upstart programs who wish to take the next step in becoming nationally recognized football institutions.
The Humanitarian, sans Boise State, should opt for Idaho to balance the faraway MAC entry Toledo.
The Hawaii and Poinsettia Bowls are hopeful they can lock in local teams.
The Armed Forces event could signal an opportunity for West Point to return to postseason action provided no Mountain West candidate qualifies or is available.
The New Mexico bowl game is an entertaining event for participants and fans alike and could end up with one of the more interesting clashes for western audiences.
The New Orleans Bowl does what it can to promote the small leagues of its conference tie-in, while the Birmingham Bowl could have a repeat performance of the Big East dominating a SEC member.
The most interesting game could be the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit, which could arrange the knuckle-buster rematch between Illinois and Northern Illinois.
* The Army has no guarantee at this point but could be offered a position in the EagleBank Bowl and others if circumstances allow.
Suppose we look at these nine bowl games as interchangeable entities depending upon the needs of the sponsoring cities and wishes of the schools.
Because that can be the determining factor in how the invitations are extended.
In the under $1 million bowls the schools are just happy to receive any bid, and the town and sponsors will roll out the red carpet, hopeful the fans will follow their teams.
In these million-dollar bowls listed below you can find on several occasions the invitation is extended to the "third or fourth choice," not necessarily the position in the conference standings.
Because of that, some schools are chosen ahead of others with superior records.
Bowl Date Place Payout Conf. Tie-Ins Projected Matchup
No. 12: Sun Dec. 31 El Paso $1,900,000 ACC, Pac-10 N.C. State vs. Arizona
No. 13: Liberty Dec. 31 Memphis $1,700,000 SEC, CUSA Georgia vs. SMU
No. 14: Music Dec. 30 Nashville $1,600,000 SEC, ACC Ole Miss vs. Ga. Tech
No. 15: Dallas Jan. 1 Dallas $1,200,000 Big Ten, Big 12 Northwestern vs. Baylor
No. 16: Indep. Dec. 27 Shreveport $1,100,000 MWC, ACC Air Force vs. Boston College
No. 17: MAACO Dec. 22 Las Vegas $1,000,000 MWC, Pac-10 TCU vs. California
No. 18: St. Pete Dec. 21 St. Pete $1,000,000 Big East, CUSA South Fla. vs. Sou. Miss.
No. 19: Eagle Dec. 29 Washington $1,000,000 ACC, CUSA Maryland vs. E. Carolina
No. 20: Meineke Dec. 31 Charlotte $1,000,000 ACC, Big East Clemson vs. Syracuse
The Sun and Liberty Bowls are older and distinguished attractions, obviously the cream of the crop of this group of postseason events.
The Liberty has a tie-in with the Conference USA champion. By the looks of the first half of the season, that could be SMU. Georgia would give the contest a big name atmosphere.
The Sun has a new tie-in with the ACC and also continues its relationship with the Pac-10. Because of the rising interest in the Wolfpack of N.C. State, El Paso should be glad to have them as their first ACC visitor in many years.
Arizona of the Pac-10 should make a strong opponent with a nice regional flavor.
The choice for the MAACO is TCU based upon the analysis that Utah will defeat TCU in a battle of unbeatens for the Mountain West crown.
Void of their high BCS ranking, the Horned Frogs could tumble down the ladder in the manner outlined. California makes a highly desirable opponent.
The Music City Bowl in Nashville is a highly desirable location with the coveted SEC vs. ACC tie-in. A renewal of the ancient Ga. Tech vs. Ole Miss rivalry should bring droves of interested fans.
The St. Petersburg, EagleBank and new Dallas Football Classic are examples of choices purely from a more local level to fill seats.
The Meineke Bowl has hopes of securing a nearby school, and Clemson is just the answer to balance the distant Syracuse Orange.
The Independence has a new ACC vs. Mt. West tie-in, and the Air Force should provide a top-caliber squad for any ACC representative to challenge.
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. Texas A&M
New York has all of the support systems in place for the new Pinstripe Bowl, and the location is sure to become one of the most popular postseason destinations for players and fans alike.
The Pinstripe will pay $2 million to its participants. The men from Gotham have secured two BCS conferences as a tie-in.
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.
New Yorkers demand a first-class show and will not accept anything less.
Expect two big names to be selected for entertaining residents of the Big Apple.
Notre Dame and Texas A&M are just what they are looking for in terms of a main attraction.
Date: December 28, 2010
Place: Orlando, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: ACC No. 3 vs. Big East No. 2
Projected Matchup: Virginia Tech 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.
At some point, Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt has to find some luck and win a close game in order to stave off a group of contenders from the Big East.
Virginia Tech is capable of winning the ACC and going to the Orange Bowl. If they do not do so, the Gobblers are likely to opt for the sun and fun of Orlando as a consolation prize.
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. Texas Tech
The Red Raiders from Lubbock are a dangerous opponent because of crafty coach Tommy Tuberville.
Coach Mike Riley of Oregon State has played one of the toughest schedules in the country to this point of the season. If the Beavers can avoid an ever-increasing injury problem, the men from Corvallis will be the choice of the Holiday Bowl for its Pac-10 representative.
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.
Stanford looks like the most likely candidate for this position.
Oklahoma State is a powerful offensive team and can put points on the board. However, the Cowboys are not a deep squad, and this may spell two or three defeats.
The potential of an offensive showcase will make a Cardinal-Cowboy affair very attractive to the Alamo Bowl.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Jacksonville, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 6 vs. Big Ten No. 4
Projected Matchup: Arkansas vs. Wisconsin
At the risk of moving Wisconsin out of the Big Ten title chase before this week's contest with Ohio State, we should mention this contest could just as easily be played in the Outback Bowl.
Badger coach Bret Bielema is an old hand at knowing how to handle the length of the Big Ten season, and Wisconsin should be an attractive team for the Gator Bowl in the first year of the Big Ten vs. SEC tie-in.
Arkansas, with their large traveling fanbase, has the potential to sell out the grand old Jacksonville stadium.
Could be one of the most dynamic matches of the postseason.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Tampa, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 4 vs. Big Ten No. 3
Projected Matchup: Michigan State vs. Florida
The Spartans make a strong case as the visiting Big Ten opponent for the SEC in this contest.
If Michigan State continues on their unbeaten track, they will end up in a BCS location, but in case they stub their toe once or twice, Tampa will make a nice setting for them.
If Florida does not defeat Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks in the race for the SEC Eastern division championship, the Gators will be an attractive choice for Outback officials.
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 as well as the Champs Sports Bowl.
Miami went to the Champs last season and lost to coach Bret Bielema's Wisconsin Badgers, so the 'Canes will likely wish for a change of scenery.
If Mississippi State wins at least seven games, they should represent the SEC in Atlanta. The possibility remains open for a switch of places with Arkansas, who has strong crowd support in almost any venue.
Date: December 28, 2010
Place: Tempe, Arizona
Conference Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 5 vs. Big 12 No. 4
Projected Matchup: Michigan vs. Missouri
Since the Insight has become a big money player in the bowl selection process, it will not be surprising to find teams with a national following going into the desert to reap the rewards.
Missouri is in a tough position in the Big 12 with Nebraska and Oklahoma in the same league. The Wildcats of Kansas State as well as a host of Texas schools will press hard for a shot at the big payday.
If the Tigers finish at 10-2, they would seem to be the logical choice for Tempe.
A funny thing happened to Michigan on their run toward daylight last week: They ran into Michigan State.
If the Wolverines can avoid a complete collapse, they have the reputation the Insight is seeking in a Big Ten contestant.
Date: January 7, 2011
Place: Arlington, Texas
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 3 vs. Big 12 No. 2
Projected Matchup: Alabama vs. Texas
The Cotton Bowl, with its storied legacy and incomparable new surroundings, is on the verge of becoming a BCS bowl.
To put some icing on the cake, they will present the game everyone has wanted to see for the past 10 months: the Longhorns getting their shot at redemption against Alabama in a rematch of last season's BCS title game.
On the first Friday night in January, the Cotton Bowl will be the only game on the television, and sponsors can expect some of the highest ratings in the postseason.
Should be a much more contested affair than the last time—to put it mildly.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Orlando, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 2 vs. Big Ten No. 2
Projected Matchup: South Carolina vs. Iowa
If everything evolves as presented to this point, Iowa could be the most desirable team not going to a BCS contest.
If the Hawkeyes are not champions of the Big Ten, they will make a perfect opponent for any SEC team in Orlando. Maybe too perfect.
The most attractive scenario for the Orlando postseason event will be to match the SEC Eastern division winner, likely South Carolina, provided that squad does not win the SEC title game.
That is how we end up with South Carolina versus Iowa in the Capital One Bowl.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Glendale, Arizona
Conference Tie-In: Big 12 No. 1 (see note below) vs. BCS At-Large Selection
Projected Matchup: Oklahoma vs. Auburn
If the Big 12 champion is plucked for the BCS title game, the Fiesta moves up in the "picking pecking order" and has choice of available candidates as replacements.
The Fiesta will likely offer an SEC or Big Ten team the bid for a holiday visit.
If Michigan State finishes 12-0, all bets are off—the Spartans are going to the Fiesta.
If Iowa can finish with a 10-2 record, they will be a strong candidate.
On the other hand, the simple solution could be to take the winner of the Auburn-Alabama contest provided neither team goes to the SEC title game.
If Oklahoma goes 12-1 and loses to an unbeaten Nebraska for the conference title, the Sooners are the obvious choice for the bowl game with a Big 12 conference tie-in.
Date: January 3, 2011
Place: Miami, Florida
Conference Tie-In: ACC No. 1 vs. At-Large BCS Selection
Projected Matchup: Florida State vs. West Virginia
The ACC took a clear turn for normalcy last week with Florida State's complete destruction of Miami.
The Seminoles appear to have the edge on Virginia Tech in terms of being the conference's most complete team.
Put FSU in the Orange Bowl.
The Big East champion is entitled to a spot in the BCS and has to be accounted for so, let's say West Virginia takes the second slot in Miami.
Date: January 4, 2011
Place: New Orleans, Louisiana
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 1 vs. BCS At-Large
Projected Matchup: LSU vs. Utah
In a year where the SEC looks to be shut out of the BCS title game, the Sugar Bowl takes on a renewed position of importance among conference members.
LSU and Auburn are the only unbeaten teams left in the SEC at this point, and the conference does not have a team ranked in the Top Five nationally.
It is difficult to cast your fate with the Mad Hatter without taking a deep gulp, but LSU coach Les Miles has won the BCS championship previously. That could give the Tigers the edge they need to defeat Auburn in what should be a titanic struggle in the Western division of the SEC.
No matter who comes out of the West, they will have to play their best game of the year to defeat coach Steve Spurrier's balanced South Carolina Gamecocks, who have already put down Alabama this season and would like nothing better than a rematch with Auburn on a neutral field for the title.
Utah is the one team who can defeat TCU and win the Mountain West Conference championship. If the Utes finish with an undefeated record, they can make the Sugar Bowl for the second time in three years.
The Sugar could have an undefeated LSU, or Auburn, versus an undefeated Utah.
Circumstances may provide the Sugar Bowl with the premier matchup prior to the BCS championship.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Pasadena, California
Conference Tie-Ins: Pac-10 No. 1 vs. Big Ten No. 1 (see specifics below)
Projected Matchup: Boise State vs. Oregon
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 of Boise State could meet those qualifications and take the place of Ohio State in Pasadena.
If Oregon can find some consistency of focus, the Ducks may ride into November as an undefeated squad worthy of consideration for the BCS title game.
The Wildcats of Arizona and the Beavers of Oregon State will provide formidable opponents for coach Chip Kelly and Oregon to finish the season.
Maybe just enough competition to keep the Ducks in the Rose Bowl instead of Glendale.
The Date: January 10, 2011
The Place: Glendale, Arizona
Conference Tie-Ins: None. No. 1 against No. 2 in the final regular season BCS Poll.
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 anyone else accomplishes during the 2010 season.
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.
This is not a "done deal," as the Buckeyes face huge obstacles along the way regarding their conference road schedule. It would surprise few in the nation if Ohio State loses a game this year.
Nebraska has to face Texas and undefeated Missouri before even qualifying for the Big 12 conference title game, possibly against an unbeaten Oklahoma.
The trail to the BCS title will be a difficult journey for each of these teams.
OK, everyone had a good time this week poking fun at the "over-enthusiastic" Alabama fans we've had to endure for the past number of months on the Bleacher Report.
We expect the Crimson Tide will get back into reality over the next few weeks and attempt to chase the best bowl bid available for them.
Silly season is here and in full bloom around the college football world.
One rumor has the Fiesta Bowl breaking its arrangement with the Big 12 unless two "metropolitan" schools are added to the conference.
A personal favorite is the establishment of the Cotton Bowl as a BCS game with the Big 12 and Big East champions receiving bids much like the Rose Bowl with two conference champions.
During the past week several writers and interested observers made their impressions known regarding the bowl selection process, and this input is very much appreciated.
Thanks to David Hedlind, Carl Stine, Tim Croley, Brandon Hamblen, Dan Boone and many others for all of the information they have provided.
A tally of the "Big Six" bowl games is in order. From the past week we find the consensus of readers as follows:
BCS Title Game: Oregon vs. Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Stanford
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. TCU
Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. West Virginia
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Boise State
Capital Bowl: Arkansas vs. Iowa
Cotton Bowl: Nebraska vs. Auburn