2010 College Football Predictions: Bleacher Report Bowl Projections

Puppet MasterCorrespondent ISeptember 16, 2010

2010 College Football Predictions: Bleacher Report Bowl Projections

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    A key exercise during any college football season is gathering information concerning the upcoming contests and using the data to predict the winners.

    In addition to providing a winner and loser, the weekly prognostications of knowledgeable fans serve as a launching point for determining important events further down the road.

    What happened last weekend, and what will happen this week, has a direct bearing on the bowl selection process. This leads to forecasting the teams who will be invited to specific postseason games.

    By launching this weekly series of bowl projections based upon play through the current week, Bleacher Report will stake a claim in the fertile ground of the college football fan's imagination.

    Bowl projections will be based upon a variety of factors, including input from the readers. Base your comments upon the actual weekly polls and your own private ranking systems, as well as playing a hunch.

    Each week will be treated separately, so we should factor our own projections as if the season has concluded with all the specific bowl tie-ins arranged.

    This will be a group effort to make known how Bleacher Report views the upcoming bowl matchups.

The Under $1 Million Payout Bowls

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    Bowl                Date        Place            Payout      Conf. Tie-Ins       Projected Matchup

    Birmingham    Jan. 8      Birmingham   $900,000   SEC, Big East   Miss. St. vs. South Fla.

    New Mexico    Dec. 18   Albuquerque  $750,000   MWC, WAC       New Mexico vs. Utah St.

    Armed Forces Dec. 30   Dallas           $750,000   CUSA, MWC       Tulsa vs. Air Force

    Hawaii            Dec. 24    Honolulu       $750,000   CUSA, WAC       SMU vs. Hawaii

    Poinsettia       Dec. 23    San Diego     $750,000   MWC, Navy       Wyoming vs. Navy

    Kraft               Jan. 9      San Francisco $750,000  WAC, Pac-10     Fresno St. vs. Washington

    GMAC            Jan. 6      Mobile           $750,000   MAC, Sun Belt    C. Michigan vs. Troy

    Humanitarian   Dec. 18  Boise             $750,000   WAC, MAC         Nevada vs. Ohio

    Little Caesars  Dec. 26   Detroit           $750,000   MAC, Big Ten      Temple vs. Purdue

    Texas               Dec. 29   Houston        $612,500   Big Ten, Big 12    Indiana vs. Kansas

    New Orleans    Dec. 18   New Orleans  $325,000  Sun Belt, CUSA  Middle Tenn St. vs. UAB 

    We begin the projections with what are commonly referred to as "the little bowls." The truth is this is where we find some of the less publicized conference champions.

    There is an opportunity for turnover among teams in these bowl games, as the larger conferences with tie-ins may not produce a school with six wins, thus allowing for some of the "have-nots" to become the "haves."

The $1 Million to $1.2 Million Payout Bowls

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    These are the bowls where many of the up-and-coming programs make their first spash on the national stage.

    College athletic directors spend a great deal of their time attempting to balance the monetary return for distant destinations, which leads to an intensive effort of scrutinizing the bookkeeping (see picture).

    Bowl               Date        Place           Payout        Conf. Tie-Ins        Projected Matchup

    Dallas             Jan. 1      Dallas          $1,200,000   Big Ten, Big 12   Penn St. vs. Kansas St.

    Independence  Dec. 27   Shreveport    $1,100,000   ACC, MWC        Ga. Tech vs. BYU

    MAACO          Dec. 22    Las Vegas   $1,000,000   MWC, Pac-10    Utah vs. California

    St. Petersburg Dec. 21    St. Pete       $1,000,000  Big East,CUSA  UConn vs. Sou. Miss.

    EagleBank       Dec. 29    Washington  $1,000,000  ACC, CUSA      Maryland vs. E. Carolina

    Meineke          Dec. 31    Charlotte       $1,000,000  ACC, Big East  Wake Forest vs. Rutgers

The $1.6 Million to $2.225 Million Payout Bowls

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    Among these destinations are bowl games considered a fine reward for a season viewed as successful.

    An excellent slate of locations where players and fans alike can enjoy themselves while taking home a nice payday for the schools.

    Bowl Game     Date         Place             Payout        Conf. Tie-Ins         Projected Matchup

    Alamo            Dec. 29     San Antonio   $2,225,000   Pac-10, Big 12    Oregon vs. Oklahoma St.

    Holiday          Dec. 30      San Diego     $2,200,000   Pac-10, Big 12     Stanford vs. Texas Tech 

    Champs         Dec. 28      Orlando        $2,130,000   ACC, Big East      Boston College vs. Pitt

    Pinstripe        Dec. 30      New York     $2,000,000    Big East, Big 12   Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M 

    Sun               Dec. 31      El Paso        $1,900,000    ACC, Pac-10        Clemson vs. Oregon State

    Liberty           Dec. 31      Memphis      $1,700,000    SEC, CUSA         Kentucky vs. Houston

    Music City     Dec. 30      Nashville      $1,600,000    SEC, ACC           Arkansas vs. Va Tech

    These seven "fun bowls" provide an interesting scenario of interchangeable teams.

    Notre Dame qualifies for any Big East selection according to their agreement, while the Alamo has replaced the Holiday as the site of the No. 2 selection from the Pac-10.

    Oregon is riding high right now, but you know the old adage about the bigger you are, the harder you fall.

    Arkansas has the horses to make a move toward the higher-paying bowls. The proof is in the pudding.

    Virginia Tech will have to turn its season around in order to be considered for a "bigger" bowl destination while Clemson has the fanbase to make the new contract between the ACC and the Sun a worthwhile adventure for all concerned.

The Gator Bowl

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    COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 11: Tailback Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks runs with the ball while guard Rokevious Watkins #73 looks on during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Columb
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Date: January 1, 2011

    Place: Jacksonville, Florida

    Payout: $2,750,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 6 vs. Big Ten No. 4

    Projected Matchup: South Carolina vs. Michigan State

    Free at last from the bondage of the ACC, the Gator Bowl has renewed its contact with the SEC and added the Big Ten as an attractive opponent.

    With the improvement in both Columbia and East Lansing this season, a clash between the Gamecocks and  Spartans seems a perfect fit for big-time bowl action in northern Florida.

    In what appears to be a trend, such a contest would place Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio against his alma mater, where he starred for Big Jim Carlen in the 1970s.

    It is no secret many close to the Gamecock program have Dantonio in mind to replace coach Steve Spurrier whenever the "old ball coach" decides to retire.

The Outback Bowl

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    Date: January 1, 2011

    Place: Tampa, Florida

    Payout: $3,100,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 4 vs. Big Ten No. 3

    Projected Matchup: Auburn vs. Michigan

    The rejuvenated Wolverines will bring an inspired and raucous crowd, hungry for a postseason victory, to face the ever dangerous Tigers of Auburn.

    Before the season is over, this contest could move into the confines of the Capital One Bowl.

The Chick-fil-A Bowl

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    ATLANTA - DECEMBER 31:  The Chick-fil-A Cow wears a Tennessee Volunteers jersey and an 'Eat Mor Chikin' sign during the Chick-fil-A Bowl between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Virginia Tech Hokies at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2009 in Atlanta, Geo
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    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: Florida State vs. Georgia

    Always a carnival atmosphere, this season's event could furnish the largest crowd ever if these two schools end up in Atlanta.

    The Seminoles must improve immediately to hold off hard-charging Maryland and Boston College from stealing the ACC invitation, while Georgia could change positions with Auburn depending on how the season plays out.

The Insight Bowl

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    Date: December 28, 2010

    Place: Tempe, Arizona

    Payout: $3,325,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 5 vs. Big 12 No. 4

    Projected Matchup: Northwestern vs. Missouri

    One of the biggest stories in the offseason was the announcement by Insight Bowl officials of a new contract with ESPN. The new arrangement increases their payout to rival the "Florida Bowls" in order to attract the most viable Big Ten candidates.

    The Insight could end up with a fine Big Ten representative in the Wildcats of Northwestern, led by outstanding coach Pat Fitzgerald.

    The Big 12 should be able to offer a competitive opponent in the Missouri Tigers.

The Cotton Bowl

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    Date: January 7, 2011

    Place: Arlington, Texas

    Payout: $3,575,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 3 vs. Big 12 No. 2

    Projected Matchup: LSU vs. Texas

    The Bayou Bengals appear to have gathered some motivation and therefore are a dangerous competitor in the SEC.

    Texas, while not the team they were the past two seasons, should win enough games to capture a position in the highly-regarded Cotton Bowl.

The Capital One Bowl

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    ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 1: Nick Sukay #18 of the Penn State Nittany Lions defends a pass intended for Brandon LaFell #1 of the LSU Tigers during the 2010 Capital One Bowl at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium on January 1, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. Penn State
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Date: January 1, 2011

    Place: Orlando, Florida

    Payout: $4,250,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 2 vs. Big Ten No. 2

    Projected Matchup: Florida vs. Wisconsin

    The Gators came out of the chute with a whimper but can be expected to gain steam as the season progresses.

    The Badgers play to the level of the competition but have the ultimate weapon in powerful running back John Clay.

    One change in Orlando for this year is an artificial surface, replacing the much maligned quagmire of last season's contest (see picture).

The Fiesta Bowl

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    Date: January 1, 2011

    Place: Glendale, Arizona

    Payout: $17,000,000

    Conference Tie-In: Big 12 No. 1 vs. BCS At-Large Selection

    Projected Matchup: Oklahoma vs. Iowa

    This could be the game that drives SEC fans into a frenzy.

    The BCS Title Game may invite the Big 12 champion, leaving the Fiesta in a lurch.

    The SEC looks a step behind the past few seasons and may generate only one BCS qualifier. If this is the case, the Fiesta will look hard at the runner-up in both the Big 12 and Big Ten.

    A fascinating contest on the surface, here we find Sooner coach Bob Stoops going up against his alma mater in a coaching clinic with the great Kirk Ferentz (see picture) of the Hawkeyes.

The Orange Bowl

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    Date: January 3, 2011

    Place: Miami, Florida

    Payout: $17,000,000

    Conference Tie-In: ACC No. 1 vs. At-Large BCS Selection

    Projected Matchup: Miami vs. West Virginia

    This contest would feature two BCS conference champions in the Hurricanes and the Mountaineers.

    Although Maryland and Boston College have an excellent shot at winning the ACC and replacing the Hurricanes in their hometown bowl, the schedule favors "The U."

    If West Virginia can slip past Pittsburgh and its other Big East foes, the Mountaineers will win the conference and automatically qualify for a BCS invitation.

The Sugar Bowl

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    Date: January 4, 2011

    Place: New Orleans, Louisiana

    Payout: $17,000,000

    Conference Tie-In: SEC No. 1 vs. At-Large BCS Selection

    Projected Matchup: Alabama vs. TCU

    The Crimson Tide looks ripe for an upset during the regular season but, the conventional wisdom is they will find a way to repeat as SEC champions. Let's buy what they are selling, for now.

    TCU, fresh off last year's Fiesta Bowl, has an opportunity to finish undefeated, thereby earning a date in New Orleans on the basis of its high ranking.

    The Horned Frogs hail from the Mountain West Conference. Two years ago Alabama went to the Sugar Bowl, and the Tide was routed by an undefeated Utah team from the Mountain West.

The Rose Bowl

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    Date: January 1, 2011

    Place: Pasadena, California

    Payout: $17,000,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: Pac-10 No. 1 vs. Big Ten No. 1

    Projected Matchup: Arizona vs. Boise State

    No, the Broncos are not the latest entry into the Big Ten. However, there is a proviso in the Rose Bowl tie-in agreement for the 2010 season.

    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 should meet those qualifications and take the place of Ohio State in Pasadena.

    Arizona has been waiting for a year to have its revenge against Oregon and should win the Pac-10.

The BCS Championship Game

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    The Date: January 10, 2011

    The Place: Glendale, Arizona

    Payout: $17,000,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: None. No. 1 against No. 2

    Projected Matchup: Ohio State vs. Nebraska

    Ohio State has every weapon imaginable and a coach in Jim Tressel who has won the BCS title.

    Nebraska is very reminiscent of the 2002 championship squad of Coach Tressel.

    Cornhusker coach Bo Pelini would be facing his alma mater in a winner take all situation.

    Major roadblocks abound for both squads during the regular season.

    The Cornhuskers travel to Seattle for a date with sensational quarterback Jake Locker and his Washington Huskies this week. Waiting in the tall grass later is a dangerous Thursday night contest in Manhattan with crafty Bill Snyder and his Kansas State Wildcats.

    The Buckeyes must face an incredibly difficult schedule with Iowa, Wisconsin, and resurgent Michigan looming on the horizon.

    If these two teams make it through the season unscathed, they will deserve to play for the title.