Collins' Bubble Watch: College Football's Real Money Games

Michael CollinsAnalyst IOctober 31, 2008

Thirty-two bowls, sixty-four teams.  Isn’t college football at this time of year like pre-tournament college hoops?  At least for the BCS conference commissioners who are sweating out filling their bowl contracts. 

BCS conferences have contracted for 48 bowls with another two for the National Championship game.  Fourteen spots for non-BCS football teams.  More than they deserve, but throw them a scrap.  In a good year, non-BCS teams will get 15 percent of the bowl revenues.  When Notre Dame makes a BCS bowl, they get 1 percent. 

The real money games this Saturday are not Texas-Texas Tech or Georgia-Florida, but college football’s version of Bubble Games between conference teams verging on bowl-eligibility or being home for the holidays.  More bowl contracts filled means more revenue to be shared for the conferences. 

Who’s doing the most sweating?  (Besides the non-BCS teams wanting to fill an empty contract slot)   Which teams are on the Bubble Watch, while we look at the top games? 

Here’s what the conference commissioners will be watching:  


ACC—(12 teams) Contracts for 9 bowls (75 percent of teams). 

       Teams In (2)—Maryland, North Carolina. 

       Teams Out (2)—Clemson, NC State

       Need One More Win (6)—Georgia Tech and Florida State have six wins but only one of their two FCS games can count.  Boston College, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami.   

  Bubble Teams (2) – Wake Forest (4-3) and Duke (4-3) for the final spot (five games

         left each). 

        Wake Forest (Duke, Virginia, @NC State, Boston College, Vanderbilt)

         Duke (@Wake Forest, NC State, @Clemson, @Virginia Tech, North Carolina)

   Game of the Week – Duke@Wake – The winner is one game from bowl eligible.  Both

        have NC St.  Duke needs this win more.

  Conclusion:  Sitting pretty.  The ACC will fill their contracts.  They may have an extra

        team, bowl-eligible.     


Big East—(8 teams) Contracts for 7 bowls (87.5 percent)

       Teams In (3)—Connecticut, South Florida, Cincinnati

       Teams Out (1)—Syracuse

       Need One More Win (3)—West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Louisville

  Bubble Team (1)—Rutgers (3-5)

        Rutgers (Syracuse, @S. Florida, Army and Louisville)

  Game of the Week – Syracuse at Rutgers (Nov 8).  Pride for Syracuse.  Everything for Rutgers

Conclusion:  Sweating it out. This could come down to the Louisville game.  Possible

         bowl bid not filled. 


Big 10—(11 teams) Contracts for 7 bowls (63 percent) 

      Teams In (5)—Penn St, Ohio St, Michigan St, Northwestern, Minnesota.

           (If Penn State goes to the N.C., eight teams can fill Big 10 contracts.) 

       Teams Out (3) —Indiana, Purdue, Michigan

       Needs One More Win—Iowa (5-3)

       Probable In—Wisconsin (4-4).  Schedule—(@ Michigan State, @Indiana,

            Minnesota, Cal-Poly). 

  Bubble Teams (2)—Iowa (5-3), Illinois (4-4)

       Iowa (Illinois, PSU, Purdue, Minn)

       Illinois (Iowa, Western Michigan, Ohio State, Northwestern)

Game of the Week—Illinois @ Iowa.  The Illini need this game more.  Lose and they  

       need two of W. Michigan, Ohio State, and Northwestern.  Could this come down to

       the NW game? 

Conclusion:  Coming Up Short.  Looks like seven teams.  Possible bowl bid not filled.


Big 12—(12 teams) Contracts for 9 bowls (75%)

     Teams In (5)—Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State

     Teams Out (3)—Baylor, Iowa State, Texas A&M

     Need One Win (2)—Nebraska, Kansas (5-3)

     Probable In (1)—Colorado (4-4)—next two games are Texas A&M and Iowa State

  Bubble Team (1)—Kansas State (4-4)

      Kansas State (Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa St.)

Game of the Week—Kansas vs. Kansas State.   A win over rival Kansas makes the

      Wildcats road much easier. 

Conclusion:  50-50.  If team goes to N.C., possible bowl bid not filled.  If K State loses to Kansas and Missouri, Nebraska game is key.     


PAC 10—(10 teams)  Contracts for 7 bowls (70 percent)

      Teams In (2)—USC, Oregon

      Teams Out (2)—Washington State, Washington

      Need One Win (2)—Cal (5-2), Arizona (5-3)

      Probable Out (1)—UCLA (3-5)—needs to win three of Ore State, Wash, ASU, USC

    Bubble Teams (3) – Oregon State (4-3), Stanford (4-4), Arizona St (2-5)

       Ore St (ASU, UCLA, Cal, AZ, Ore)  

       Stanford (Wash St, Ore, USC, Cal)—(only one gimme)

       ASU (Ore St, Wash, Wash St, UCLA, Ariz)

    Game of the Week—ASU vs. Oregon State

Conclusion:  Too hard to call.  Five games left for two of these teams.  Stanford may

     have the toughest road.  Pac-10 needs all three Bubble Teams to fill all its  



SEC—(12 teams) Contracts for 9 bowls (75 percent)

        Teams In (3)—Georgia, Florida, Alabama

        Teams Out (3)—Tennessee, Miss. St, Arkansas

        Need One Win (4)—Vanderbilt, Kentucky, South Carolina, LSU

  Bubble Teams (2)—Auburn (4-4),  Mississippi (4-4)

         Auburn (Miss, Tenn-Martin, Ga, Ala)

         Mississippi (Auburn, La-Monroe, LSU, Miss St)

   Game of the Week—Auburn vs. Mississippi.  If Auburn loses, they need two out of

           Tenn-Martin, Georgia and Alabama.  Mississippi can lose, but would need two

           out of La-Monroe, LSU, Miss St.   This is the biggest game of the year for


    Conclusion:  Hot seat.  Since the SEC needs both to fill its bowl contracts, they would

           want Auburn to win in the Bubble Game.  If Alabama goes to the NC, possible

           one bowl bid not filled, two if either Auburn or Mississippi are not bowl-eligible.  


Non-BCS Conference Teams:


Bowl Eligible (9):  Tulsa, Utah, Ball State, TCU, BYU, Boise State, Air Force, C.Michigan, W. Michigan

Need One Win (6):  Notre Dame, Navy, Rice, Troy, San Jose State, Northern Illinois   

Bubble Teams (5):  East Carolina, Hawaii, Nevada, Buffalo, New Mexico    


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