In the traditional order of bowl projections, the games would be listed in order from first-played to the last-played. Unfortunately, this sort of method removes the element of money paid to the schools and ignores the success of teams during the season.
The 35 bowl games listed here are in order of the amount of money paid to the participants.
By using this system, we do not "devalue" the Sugar Bowl or increase the prestige of the Birmingham Bowl simply based upon what date the bowl game take place.
We begin with the following 15 bowls who pay out $1 million or less to the schools invited.
Bowl Date Place Payout Conf. Tie-Ins Projected Matchup
No.35: Birmingham Jan. 8 Birmingham $900,000 SEC, Big East Kentucky vs. Rutgers
No.34: New Mexico Dec. 18 Albuquerque $750,000 MWC, WAC BYU vs. Fresno State
No.33: Armed Forces Dec. 30 Dallas $750,000 CUSA, MWC Tulsa vs. Army*
No.32: Hawaii Dec. 24 Honolulu $750,000 CUSA, WAC Houston vs. Hawaii
No.31: Poinsettia Dec. 23 San Diego $750,000 MWC, Navy San Diego St. vs. Navy
No.30: Kraft Jan. 9 San Fran. $750,000 WAC, Pac-10 Nevada vs. Washington
No.29: GMAC Jan. 6 Mobile $750,000 MAC, Sun Belt Temple vs. Troy
No.28: Humanitarian Dec. 18 Boise $750,000 WAC, MAC Idaho vs. Ohio U.
No.27: Little Caesars Dec. 26 Detroit $750,000 MAC, Big Ten N. Illinois vs. Indiana
No. 26: Texas Dec. 29 Houston $612,500 Big Ten, Big 12 Illinois vs. Texas A&M
No. 25: New Orleans Dec. 18 New Orleans $325,000 Sun Belt, CUSA M. Tenn St. vs. Sou. Miss.
No. 24: MAACO Dec. 22 Las Vegas $1,000,000 MWC, Pac-10 TCU vs. Arizona State
No. 23: St. Pete Dec. 21 St. Pete $1,000,000 Big East, CUSA Sou. Fla. vs. Central Fla.
No. 22: Eagle Dec. 29 Washington $1,000,000 ACC, CUSA Maryland vs. E. Carolina
No. 21: Meineke Dec. 31 Charlotte $1,000,000 ACC, Big East UNC vs. UConn
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. Likewise, if Utah loses their home contest with TCU, the Utes will be placed in this spot for the MWC.
In either case, Arizona State will make a highly desirable opponent in the MAACO.
The St. Petersburg Bowl may latch on to the most intense contest of the early bowl season with Central Florida and South Florida squaring off. It should fill the seats needed by this bowl event.
The Kraft Hunger Bowl in San Francisco could find itself with one of the most interesting of the lesser-paying bowl games with Jake Locker and Washington going up against "The Pistol" offense of Nevada.
The Birmingham Bowl sets up another unique challenge for the SEC against a Big East opponent while the New Mexico Bowl continues to labor under the pressure that comes from being the first of all postseason contests each year.
The Armed Forces Bowl may turn to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point if no viable Mountain West opponent is available for nearby Tulsa of Conference USA.
The Eagle Bank, Hawaii, Poinsettia, GMAC, New Orleans, Humanitarian, The Texas, Little Caesars and Meineke Bowls are examples of choices purely of more local interest to fill seats.
In the following pages you will find the 20 bowl games paying out more than $1 Million to those fortunate enough to receive invitations.