Bowl Schedule 2010: Who Are the Winners and Losers?

Elliott Pohnl@@ElliottPohnl_BRFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2010

Bowl Schedule 2010: Who Are the Winners and Losers?

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    Bowl schedule 2010 should draw an emotional reaction from players, coaches and fans once it comes together later this evening.

    While some teams will have plenty to look forward to as the holidays approach, others will be left wondering what could have been.

    Behold the many trials and tribulations of today's college football bowl system.

    Although the matchups of the 35 bowl games have yet to be revealed, we can make some educated guesses on which teams will play where.

    We can also predict who will be glad to be playing in the postseason and who will be very, very sad.

    Here's a look at 10 winners and losers of the bowl schedule.

Honorable Mention Loser: Tulsa Heads to Hawaii

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    Bowl Matchup: Tulsa vs. Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl


    One of the few bowl matchups that is already set features Tulsa traveling to Hawaii.

    College football fans know what to expect when they tune in for the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.

    Get ready for an empty stadium, trash blowing all over the field and some fights during and after the game.

    Tulsa had some nice wins this season, but G.J. Kinne and Damaris Johnson find themselves playing what amounts to a road game to finish the season.

    Making matters worse, Hawaii has one of the best offenses in the country and will probably be a heavy favorite.

    At least Tulsa fans will get to spend the holidays in a tropical paradise.

Honorable Mention Winner: SMU Going Bowling in Texas

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    Bowl Matchup: SMU vs. Army in the Armed Forces Bowl


    SMU is still recovering from being hit with the NCAA's death penalty more than two decades ago, but June Jones has the program headed in the right direction again.

    The Conference USA runner-ups will play Army in Fort Worth with the chance to finish off the season with a big win.

10 Winner: Miami of Ohio Wins the MAC, Headed to January Bowl

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: Vs. Troy in the Bowl


    Remember when going to a January bowl used to be a prestigious honor reserved for only the best teams in college football?

    It might not be a BCS game, but Miami of Ohio is thrilled to be in the postseason after winning just one game in 2009.

    The Redhawks upset heavy favorite Northern Illinois to win the MAC championship in exciting fashion and will likely earn a trip to lovely Mobile, Alabama.

    Sadly, spokesperson Danica Patrick is not expected to be in attendance.

10 Loser: Pittsburgh Likely to Finish Season in BBVA Compass Bowl

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: vs. Kentucky in the BBVA Compass Bowl


    Pittsburgh began the season as a top-20 team only to finish as an afterthought.

    Although injuries and inexperience were a problem, that isn't a valid excuse for a poor season in the weakest Big East Conference in recent memory.

    All Dave Wannstedt can do now is get his team ready one of the most obscure bowl games on the schedule.

9 Loser: Miami Hurricanes Could Be Heading to El Paso for the Holidays

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: vs. Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl


    Miami's storied football program was sitting pretty heading into the season.

    Randy Shannon received a four-year extension and had his top 10-caliber team looking like a BCS contender.

    It's safe to say the Hurricanes had an epic fail, from top to bottom.

    The reward for Miami could be a trip to blustery El Paso to face the Irish.

    Maybe the 'Canes should just stay home for the holidays.

9 Winner: Mike Sherman Saves His Job, Sends Leads A&M to Cotton Bowl

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: Texas A&M vs. LSU in the Cotton Bowl


    The Aggies are headed to Dallas, where they likely will face LSU.

    If only Mike Sherman had benched turnover-prone Jerrod Johnson sooner.

    Since shifting Ryan Tannehill from wide receiver back to quarterback, the Aggies offense has become efficient and leaned more heavily on the running game.

    Meanwhile, the defense started stopping opponents for the first time during Sherman's inglorious run in College Station.

    It looks as if the longtime NFL coach may get another year in the college ranks after all.

8 Loser: Illinois Could Be Headed to Texas Bowl

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: vs. Baylor in the Texas Bowl


    If only Illinois had managed to beat Michigan this year.

    The overtime loss eventually was the difference between making the Outback Bowl and limping into the Texas Bowl.

    In the end, Friday's loss at Fresno State probably won't hurt Ron Zook's bowl destination.

    However, it could cost him his job.

    With the struggles of Penn State and Iowa this year, the Illini easily could have sneaked into fourth place in the Big Ten.

    The Zookster might be out of time in Champaign.

8 Winner: Insight Bowl Could Snag Two Teams That Travel Well

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: Iowa vs. Nebraska


    The Insight Bowl isn't usually worth paying attention to.

    That might be different this year if two of the most disappointing yet talented teams in college football square off.

    In addition to creating a watchable game, bowl organizers have a potential cash-cow with two programs that travel extremely well.

    Despite horrible finishes to the season, it would be tough for Husker and Hawkeye fans to say no to the warm climate of Arizona in late December.

7 Loser: Nebraska Banished to Insight Bowl

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: vs. Iowa in the Insight Bowl


    Nebraska was a trendy national championship pick early this season with hotshot freshman Taylor Martinez becoming a Heisman candidate.

    An ankle injury to Martinez eventually brought both of those to an end.

    The Huskers have dealt with controversy down the stretch while struggling on offense.

    After looking like a deer in the headlights against Oklahoma, Martinez has some changes to make over the next few weeks.

    Too bad he can't do anything to improve his lack of arm strength.

7 Winner: The Big Ten

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    Despite missing out on around $15 million dollars annually by not holding a conference championship game, the Big Ten has enjoyed millions from getting two teams into the BCS bowls in recent years.

    It will happen again this year with both Ohio State and Wisconsin heading to prestigious January bowls.

    With conference expansion beginning next fall, Jim Delany will finally have his conference title game to bring in extra cash.

    He will also have a more difficult time sneaking multiple entries into the BCS.

    Enjoy it while you can, Big Ten fans.

6 Loser: Iowa Might Not Even Be Headed to Florida

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: vs. Nebraska in the Insight Bowl


    Kirk Ferentz has had his share of underachieving teams during his tenure in Iowa City.

    Despite one of the best defensive fronts in the country and an experienced senior quarterback, his Iowa team consistently blew leads in the fourth quarter.

    It happened one final time in the loss to Minnesota, which could banish the Hawkeyes to the Insight Bowl instead of the Outback Bowl.

    Ferentz could have some tough decisions to make on his coaching staff in the offseason.

6 Winner: Jake Locker Will Be Playing in a Bowl Game

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: vs. Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl


    By the end of the season, Jake Locker was quickly becoming an afterthought in college football.

    He even had become an afterthought on his own team, with Chris Polk playing the hero in recent weeks.

    Somehow, Washington ended the season near the top of the Pac-10 and is likely headed to the Alamo Bowl.

    With Oklahoma State as the possible opponent, Locker should be able to finish his disappointing senior season in style.

5 Loser: South Carolina Headed Back to Atlanta After Brutal SEC Title Game Loss

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: vs. Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl


    Almost every team has been able to light up Auburn's defense this season, at least until yesterday.

    South Carolina got a disappointing performance from Stephen Garcia and Marcus Lattimore thanks in large part to the struggles of the offensive line.

    Instead of pulling an upset, Steve Spurrier's team unleashed an embarrassing effort.

    Ultimately, the Gamecocks probably didn't belong anywhere near the BCS picture.

5 Winner: Brian Kelly and Notre Dame Football

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: vs. Miami in the Sun Bowl


    What once looked like a lost season marred by tragedy has a chance to end with four straight wins if Brian Kelly can lead Notre Dame to a postseason victory.

    It's safe to say Kelly has beaten the odds in his first year in South Bend.

    Get ready for unrealistic expectations to surround the Irish in 2011.

4 Loser: The Big 12 Only Gets One Team into the BCS Bowls

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    Midway through the season, the Big 12 looked like one of the better conferences in college football.

    With Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Missouri and Nebraska all hovering around the top 15 with fairly soft schedules, it appeared two teams might end up in the BCS bowls.

    Once Nebraska began to fall apart, it was obvious the conference would only get one team into the BCS.

    At least Big 12 BCS representative Oklahoma gets to play a cupcake in the Fiesta Bowl.

4 Winner: UConn Gets to Play in a BCS Bowl

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: vs. Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl


    Not everybody is enraged the Big East gets an automatic bid in the BCS.

    UConn stands to cash in after earning a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, opening the door for the program to possibly give Randy Edsall another raise.

    After getting off to a brutal start to the season, Jordan Todman virtually carried the Huskies to the Big East crown.

    Don't expect UConn to stand much of a chance against Oklahoma.

3 Loser: The Fiesta Bowl Has to Invite UConn

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: Oklahoma vs. UConn


    The Fiesta Bowl gets the last pick in the BCS, which means it will have no choice but to invite UConn.

    Although last year's Boise State-TCU Cinderella matchup ended up drawing well and being an exciting game, organizers were probably looking for a more intriguing matchup on a national level.

    The only interesting question surrounding this year's game will be how many points Oklahoma can put up on the Huskies.

    No need to watch the game to find out.

3 Winner: Andrew Luck Gets to Play on a National Stage

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: vs. Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl


    Andrew Luck is widely regarded as the top NFL draft prospect in college football, but not all fans have had the privilege of watching him play.

    With Luck finally able to escape the obscurity of playing on the West Coast, he should start gaining more respect for being a dual-threat quarterback with a strong arm.

    If not for Cam Newton's heroics, Luck would be considered the most impactful player in the country.

    It's not even close.

2 Loser: Boise State Could Be Headed to Maaco Bowl

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: vs. Utah in the Maaco Bowl


    Boise State has gone from being a lock for the BCS to playing in a bowl nobody has ever heard of.

    The Broncos could have gone to the Fight Hunger Bowl, but Nevada got the nod instead.

    That leaves Boise with the choice of heading to Vegas or staying at home to play in the Humanitarian Bowl.

    At least the Broncos would get the chance to have some fun in Sin City.

2 Winner: Cam Newton Gets to Keep Playing

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    Projected Bowl Matchup: vs. Oregon in National Championship Game


    After weeks of rumors, speculation and very shady details, Cam Newton was ineligible for all of one day.

    Coming off his six-touchdown performance in the SEC title game, Newton will have one more chance to show why he is the most dominant college football player in recent history.

    No matter what happens with the investigations in the future, Newton will be able to keep shining in the present.

1 Loser: The BCS System

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    It simply will never be perfect.

    Sure, there is no question two best teams in college football will play each other in the BCS National Championship game.

    There is also no question a good portion of the other 69 teams playing in bowl games could beat BCS automatic qualifier UConn.

    Year after year, the BCS system creates one problem after another.

    We should hardly be surprised.

1 Winner: College Football Fans

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    For all of the problems with the BCS, at least the two best teams in the country will end the season by squaring off.

    What a game it will be.

    Auburn and Oregon should provide plenty of scoring, creativity and tempo to give college football fans the most exciting National Championship Game ever played.

    Aside from two of the Heisman finalists, the game will feature great receivers and a wealth of talented running backs.

    With speed all over the field, both teams should have no problem scoring more than 30 points.

    Too bad we have to wait more than a month for the ball to be kicked off in Glendale.