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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    EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 27:  Jordan Todman #23 of the Connecticut Huskies celebrates his touchdown with teammates Ryan Griffin #94, Kevin Friend #77 and Mathieu Olivier #66 in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats on November 27, 2010 at
    Elsa/Getty Images

    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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    NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 04:  Quarterback G.J. Kinne #4 of the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes scrambles with the football against the Tulane Green Wave at the Louisiana Superdome on September 4, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.   The Hurricanes defeated the Green
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    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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    DALLAS - SEPTEMBER 24:  Quarterback Kyle Padron #2 of the SMU Mustangs celebrates a touchdown in the third quarter against the TCU Horned Frogs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on September 24, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 04:  Linebacker Jonathan Bostic #52 of the Florida Gators is tackled by Thomas Merriweather #34 of the Miami University RedHawks following a interceptionat Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida.
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    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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    CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04:  Dave Wannstedt the Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers watches play during the Big East Conference game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Gett
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    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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    PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 23:  Jacory Harris #12 of the Miami Hurricanes drops back to pass against the Pittsburgh Panthers on September 23, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    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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    AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 27: Quarterback  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Texas A&M Aggies runs the ball against the Texas Longhorns on November 27, 2008 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  Texas won 49-9. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    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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    CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 02: Head coach Ron Zook of the Illinois Fighting Illini watches as his team takes on the Ohio State Buckeyes at Memorial Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 24-13. (Photo by Jonathan Dani
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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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    LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 16: Fans of the Nebraska Cornhuskers react after fourth a quarter punt return for a touchdown of their game against the Texas Longhorns at Memorial Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Texas Defeated Nebraska 20-13. (Pho
    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    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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    ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 04:  Quarterback Taylor Martinez #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers drops back to pass against the Oklahoma Sooners during the Big 12 Championship at Cowboys Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    IOWA CITY, IA - OCTOBER 30- Kirk Ferentz head coach of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates during the Michigan State Spartans NCAA college football game at Kinnick Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 37-6 over Michigan State. (
    David Purdy/Getty Images

    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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    SEATTLE - OCTOBER 30:  Quarterback Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies scrambles against the Stanford Cardinal on October 30, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. Stanford won 41-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    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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    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 04:  Stephen Garcia #5 of the South Carolina Gamecocks looks to pass against the Auburn Tigers during the 2010 SEC Championship at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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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    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Brian Kelly and quarterback Tommy Rees #13 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish embrace after the game against the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  No
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    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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    ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 04:  Head coach Bo Pelini of the Nebraska Cornhuskers leads his team against the Oklahoma Sooners at Cowboys Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Sooners beat the Cornhuskers 23-20.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    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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    EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Randy Edsall of the Connecticut Huskies directs his players in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats on November 27, 2010 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Huskies defeated the
    Elsa/Getty Images

    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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    PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal in action against the Oregon State Beavers at Stanford Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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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    BOISE, ID - NOVEMBER 19:  Kellen Moore #11 of the Boise State Broncos passes against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Bronco Stadium on November 19, 2010 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
    Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

    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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    ATLANTA - DECEMBER 04:  Quarterback Cam Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates with the crowd after the 2010 SEC Championship against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Tigers beat the Gamecocks 5
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    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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    EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 27:  Jordan Todman #23 of the Connecticut Huskies celebrates his touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats on November 27, 2010 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Huskies defeated the
    Elsa/Getty Images

    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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    CORVALLIS, OR - DECEMBER 4: A fan holds up a copy of a mock front page after game between the Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Corvallis, Oregon. The Ducks beat the Beavers 37-20 to likely go on to the BCS
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    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.