Inside Marshall Sports

Bowl projections … I guess

I’m about as down as anybody else, but I’ll still attempt the bowl projections. I’ll make a projection for Marshall beating SMU and losing at UTEP, the unlikely event that the Herd loses to SMU and wins UTEP, and the even more unlikely event that the Herd sweeps the two.

I will change one projection, and take Southern Miss to defeat Tulsa at Hattiesburg, despite the fact that G.J. Kinne could pass for 400 yards, if he stays upright. I will stay with ECU over Southern Miss in the finale, though the history dictates otherwise.

The big, big picture: The number of teams at .500 or better have risen to 75, but 13 sit at even .500. The ACC already cannot fill one bowl (GMAC) and I expect another to open (EagleBank). The MAC and Sun Belt will pollute the at-large pool — both already have an extra 7-win team, and may add another… keep an eye on 5-5 Bowling Green and the hyphenated Louisiana schools.

As as before, if the Herd loses out, I will no longer care.

The current CUSA standings:
East
East Carolina 5-1, 6-4
Southern Miss 4-2, 6-4
UCF 4-2, 6-4
UAB 4-2, 5-5
Marshall 3-3, 5-5
Memphis 1-5, 2-8

West
SMU 5-1, 6-4
Houston 4-2, 8-2
Tulsa 2-4, 4-6
UTEP 2-4, 3-7
Tulane 1-5, 3-7
Rice 1-5, 1-9

My projection, if Marshall beats SMU and loses at UTEP:
East
ECU 7-1, 8-4+
UCF 6-2, 8-4
Southern Miss 5-3, 7-5
Marshall 4-4, 6-6
UAB 4-4, 5-7
Memphis 1-7, 2-10

West
Houston 6-2, 10-2+
SMU 6-2, 7-5
UTEP 4-4, 5-7
Tulsa 3-5, 5-7
Tulane 1-7, 3-9
Rice 1-7, 1-11

As I’ve expected all along, five 7-win teams to fill the 5 contracted bowls, with Marshall the loose 6-6 team, hopefully to take Army’s spot in

Washington.

If Marshall beats only UTEP:
East
East
ECU 7-1, 8-4+
UCF 6-2, 8-4
Southern Miss 5-3, 7-5
Marshall 4-4, 6-6
UAB 4-4, 5-7
Memphis 1-7, 2-10

West
SMU 7-1, 8-4+
Houston 6-2, 10-2
Tulsa 3-5, 5-7
UTEP 3-5, 4-8
Tulane 1-7, 3-9
Rice 1-7, 1-11

Same as above, but SMU wouldn’t be heading to Hawaii if it wins the conference! As I understand things, Hawaii gets the No. 2 choice this year, and I

figure it would prefer Houston if it can’t get June Jones and SMU.

If Marshall somehow, some way wins the next two:
East
ECU 7-1, 8-4+
UCF 6-2, 8-4
Southern Miss 5-3, 7-5
Marshall 5-3, 7-5
UAB 4-4, 5-7
Memphis 1-7, 2-10

West
Houston 6-2, 10-2+
SMU 6-2, 7-5
UTEP 3-5, 4-8
Tulsa 3-5, 5-7
Tulane 1-7, 3-9
Rice 1-7, 1-11

That makes six 7-win teams, and we’re probably still looking at MU going to Washington. Now… if Tulsa beats Southern Miss, Marshall could end up as one of five 7-win teams, which would get the Herd out of Washington.

Bowl notes, by conference (Thursday 9:30 p.m.)

… as of Thursday, 11/12 at 9:30 p.m. all subject to change. I’ve covered C-USA pretty thoroughly on this blog, and in my Gazette story tonight.

ACC: Look for GMAC Bowl to open and about a 50-50 shot at opening the EagleBank spot (opposite Marshall?)

Big East: Unless UConn wins 2 against ND, Syracuse, USF, this league will not fill its 6 bowls UNLESS Notre Dame takes Gator Bowl spot. St. Petersburg Bowl could open (perhaps to Middle Tennessee).

Big Ten: Detroit might open up, but I’m seeing a perfect 7-for-7. But BCS at-large may open up Detroit, or even Tempe as well.

Big 12: Could send a team to the at-large pool… probably will fill its 8 bowls unless it fills a BCS at-large spot. Not likely, unless Texas loses the Big 12 title game.

MAC: This league has 4 7-win teams for 3 bowls, with Northern Illinois joining the fray Thursday night. Remember, a 7-5 MAC team will trump 6-6 Anybody in the national at-large pool.

Mountain West: Has 5 bowls, might not get a 5th team. And even if it gets a 5th, it might need 6, if TCU goes to the BCS. Look for Humanitarian Bowl to open, and maybe something else.

Pac-10: May get 7 teams for 6 bowls, but it may need a 7th (USC to BCS?). Poinsettia may open up.

SEC: Could provide a surplus 7-win team, or could magically leave the Birmingham Bowl open — which is possible if/when Florida and Alabama go to the BCS. So what if Florida plays Alabama for the BCS title? Hmmmm….

Sun Belt: Troy is your champ and Middle Tennessee is going somewhere at 7-5 or better… I’m thinking Mobile, in the ACC No. 9 spot, but the Sun Belt does have back-up agreements (Birmingham, Independence, C-USA’s St. Pete spot). Keep an eye on Birmingham. UL-Monroe should get 6, 7 if it beats UL-Lafayette. Lafayette could get 6 and join the MACsters in the at-large pool.

WAC (oops, forgot earlier): Should have a surplus team … *unless* Boise State goes to the BCS. A surplus team will have 7 and could get the Pac-10’s Poinsettia Bowl opening, if it happens.

Bowl projections after Nov. 7

(Updated 1:45 p.m.)

Finally, I’ll dare to make specific bowl projections, at least within Conference USA. All teams are down to three games remaining, so this is going to start making sense.

Some ground rules: I’ll make 3 projections … one with Marshall winning the two home games, one with Marshall beating Southern Miss and another with Marshall beating SMU only. I will not project Marshall winning at UTEP. And finally, if Marshall loses out, I will quit bowl projecting altogether and perhaps start coach projecting.

First, the big, big picture: The number of teams at .500 or better have plummeted to 71 (for 68 spots), with 5 sitting at even .500. The ACC and Mountain West took major hits — the ACC has 7 teams ahead for a probable 9 bowls, while the MWC has 4 ahead for 5 or 6 bowls, the latter if TCU goes to the BCS.

At the low end, Troy has all but clinched the Sun Belt, owning tiebreakers over the two second-place teams. But Middle Tennessee likely will go 7-5 or better, so the Blue Raiders will beat all 6-6 teams in at-large situations. The Sun Belt does have some “backup” deals, though, with the Independence and Birmingham, though I don’t expect those to pan out … yet.

The current CUSA standings:
East
East Carolina 4-1, 5-4
Marshall 3-2, 5-4
Southern Miss 3-2, 5-4
UCF 3-2, 5-4
UAB 3-2, 4-5
Memphis 1-4 2-7

West
Houston 4-1, 8-1
SMU 4-1, 5-4
Tulsa 2-3, 4-5
UTEP 2-3, 3-6
Tulane 1-4, 3-6
Rice 0-5, 0-9

My projection, if Marshall beats Southern Miss and SMU.
East
ECU 6-2, 7-6
Marshall 5-3, 7-5
UCF 5-3, 7-5
Southern Miss 3-5, 5-7
UAB 4-4, 5-7
Memphis 1-7, 2-10

West
Houston 7-1, 12-1
SMU 6-2, 7-5
Tulsa 5-3, 7-5
UTEP 4-4, 5-7
Tulane 2-6, 4-8
Rice 0-8, 0-12

That would be 6 teams to fill 5 plus the EagleBank, if available. Let’s try Houston at Liberty, SMU at Hawaii, St. Pete with a UCF/ECU dilemma, Tulsa to Fort Worth, New Orleans getting a pick and Marshall possibly the loose team, EagleBank or somewhere.

If Marshall beats only Southern Miss:
East
ECU 6-2, 7-6
UCF 5-3, 7-5
Marshall 4-4, 6-6
Southern Miss 3-5, 5-7
UAB 4-4, 5-7
Memphis 1-7, 2-10

West
Houston 7-1, 12-1
SMU 7-1, 8-4
Tulsa 5-3, 7-5
UTEP 4-4, 5-7
Tulane 2-6, 4-8
Rice 0-8, 0-12

That makes Marshall a loose 6-6 team, at the mercy of the at-large pool. If I have my rules correct, the Herd could get ousted from the EagleBank by 7-5 Middle Tennessee. (More likely scenario: MT takes a vacant ACC spot in the GMAC.)

If Marshall beats only SMU:
East
ECU 6-2, 7-6
UCF 5-3, 7-5
Marshall 4-4, 6-6
Southern Miss 4-4, 6-6
UAB 4-4, 5-7
Memphis 1-7, 2-10

West
Houston 7-1, 12-1
SMU 6-2, 7-5
Tulsa 5-3, 7-5
UTEP 4-4, 5-7
Tulane 2-6, 4-8
Rice 0-8, 0-12

That makes Marshall and Southern Miss loose teams, both at the mercy of the at-large pool.

I’ll pore over the ACC and other situations later. One note about my projections: I am picking Tulsa over Southern Miss on Nov. 21 in Hattiesburg, and I’m picking ECU over Southern Miss the next week in Greenville. Both are very debatable picks.

As always, upsets can and probably will happen, thus screwing all this up.

One bowl discrepancy

Conference USA reported on its Web site, and assistant commisssioner Russ Anderson told me, that C-USA supplies a team for the EagleBank Bowl in 2010 and 2012. But the EagleBank Bowl says Army gets the first crack at 2012, with C-USA in a backup role.

That seems picky now, especially with Army’s struggles on the field. But that is a potentially large issue down the road. In any event, I expect all sides in these bowl agreements to be clear and on the same page. My merry voice is on Anderson’s voicemail, asking for an explanation.

BTW, worst MU bowl scenario for this season (besides finishing 5-7 and getting skunked): A cold, rainy late December day at Washington, losing to Duke.

C-USA bowls 2010-13

The same five, Liberty to the champ and other to the Hawaii, St. Pete, New Orleans and Fort Worth games, in no particular order. Add in the EagleBank Bowl in 2010 and 2012, and the new game in the Cotton Bowl in 2011 and 2013, with back-up agreements in the “off” years, so to speak.

‘Tis good to hang onto the Liberty, in my humble opinion.

Minor bowl note: Upset in the ACC

As you may know, I’m tracking the ACC bowl picture for at least two reasons — who will end up in the EagleBank Bowl, and whether the league can fill nine spots (and therefore, the GMAC Bowl). North Carolina’s upset of Virginia Tech ruined the Hokies’ BCS chances, but helped the league as far as the lower bids.

NC became 5-3 with the win, but keep in in mind the Heels need to win 7. That’s because they bloody well tries to conquer the ol’ Southern Conference, beating two such teams. NC State also beat two FCS teams, so the ‘Pack needs 7. Duke tried to go that route, but lost to Richmond. Oddly, that means the Blue Devils only need to win 6 and don’t giggle, it could happen.

Sorry for losing 30 seconds of your life, but that might come into play at the end of November… somehow.

C-USA standings after Tuesday

At this early juncture, one C-USA team is provisionally bowl eligible, but at least two others will be, as per scheduling (Marshall plays Southern Miss; ECU plays Southern Miss).

I might project the league after games of Nov. 7, more likely Nov. 14. I can make some guesses, such as UCF and SMU hitting six wins, but there are a few too many variables out there.

East Division
–East Carolina 4-1, 5-3 all, Va Tech, at Tulsa, UAB, So Miss.
–Southern Miss 3-1, 5-3 all, at Houston, off, at MU, Tulsa, at ECU
–Marshall 3-1, 5-3 all, at UCF (Sunday), off, So Miss, SMU, at UTEP
–UAB 2-2, 2-5 all, at UTEP, Fla Atlantic, at Memphis, at ECU, UCF
— UCF 2-2, 4-3 all, MU (Sunday), at Texas, Houston, Tulane, at UAB
— Memphis 1-3, 2-5 all, ECU (Tuesday), at Tenn., UAB, at Houston, at Tulsa

West Division
–Houston 2-1, 6-1 all, So Miss, at Tulsa, at UCF, Memphis, Rice
— Tulsa 2-1, 4-3 all, SMU, Houston, ECU, at So Miss, Memphis
— SMU 2-1, 3-4 all, at Tulsa, Rice, UTEP, at MU, Tulane
— UTEP 2-1, 3-4 all, UAB, at Tulane, at SMU, at Rice, MU
Tulane and Rice are 0-4, and will settle that score Nov. 14, if you care.

Bowl picture, Oct. 25

First, the big, big picture: The number of teams at .500 or above has been reduced from 81 to 76, for the 68 available bowl spots. Eight teams are at break-even, down from 17 last week.

The EagleBank Bowl is closer to coming into play, after Army lost to Rutgers. The Black Knights are 3-5 with games left against Air Force, North Texas, VMI and Navy. Have fun getting three wins out of that.

The Texas Bowl still looks unlikely to come into play. Navy is 6-2, but needs another win since it plays a 13-game schedule. The slate: Temple, at Notre Dame, Delaware, at Hawaii, Army. On the other side, the Big 12 still has 10 teams at or above .500, with 8 (probably 9) bowls to fill.

The ACC is down to 8 teams under .500 for now so again, keep the GMAC Bowl’s ACC No. 9 spot in mind.

Conference USA has six teams at 4-3 or better, none at even .500. SMU and UTEP are 3-4, UAB, Memphis and Tulane are at 2-5 and Rice is toast at 0-8. But not rice toast.

Here’s a quick recap of the C-USA standings, with future opponents in order:

East Division
–East Carolina 3-1, 4-3 all, at Memphis (Tuesday), Va Tech, at Tulsa, UAB, So Miss.
–Southern Miss 3-1, 5-3 all, at Houston, off, at MU, Tulsa, at ECU
–Marshall 3-1, 5-3 all, at UCF (Sunday), off, So Miss, SMU, at UTEP
–UAB 2-2, 2-5 all, at UTEP, Fla Atlantic, at Memphis, at ECU, UCF
— UCF 2-2, 4-3 all, MU (Sunday), at Texas, Houston, Tulane, at UAB
— Memphis 1-3, 2-5 all, ECU (Tuesday), at Tenn., UAB, at Houston, at Tulsa

West Division
–Houston 2-1, 6-1 all, So Miss, at Tulsa, at UCF, Memphis, Rice
— Tulsa 2-1, 4-3 all, SMU, Houston, ECU, at So Miss, Memphis
— SMU 2-1, 3-4 all, at Tulsa, Rice, UTEP, at MU, Tulane
— UTEP 2-1, 3-4 all, UAB, at Tulane, at SMU, at Rice, MU
Tulane and Rice are 0-4, and will settle that score Nov. 14, if you care.

With all that, Marshall has one simple mission: Just win, baby… Once, at the very least.

Very, very early bowl primer

First, let’s establish one ground rule here: No declaration of the Herd’s bowl whereabouts until victory No. 6, please. Last year, one over-exuberant writer had the Herd going to the St. Pete Bowl when it was still 4-5 — and then MU played horrendously in a loss to UCF.

Second, a review of last season. There were 72 bowl-eligible teams to fill the 68 spots. Only four 6-6 teams stayed home: San Jose State, Bowling Green, Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State).

Right now, the picture is still pretty fuzzy. There are 81 teams at .500 or better, with 17 at 3-3. That (lower-case) herd should thin out a little, as some teams get their schnoz busted in conference play.

Conference USA is guaranteed five spots: Liberty, Hawaii, Fort Worth, St. Pete and New Orleans. Nobody in the league has its six wins yet, but five teams are above .500 and two others are 3-3.

One reminder here: All 7-5 or above teams will be taken care of first. A 6-6 team can be used to fill out the PRIMARY contractual agreements between bowls and conferences.

That said, C-USA has backup agreements with the EagleBank Bowl in Washington and the Texas Bowl in Houston.

The EagleBank pits Army, if eligible, against ACC No. 8. At this point, I’m guessing the ACC will fill its spot but Army has a tough road after losing to Temple. The Black Knights are 3-4 and still have Rutgers, Air Force, VMI, North Texas and Navy left.

You’ll want to keep an eyeball on this one. This is probably the least attractive potential destination (Dec. 29 in D.C., at RFK Stadium to boot), but it is geographically convenient to two C-USA schools. One is East Carolina; the other is …

I’m not as sure the Texas Bowl will open up. It pits Navy against Big 12 No. 8.

Navy is 5-2 and needs 7 wins, since it has a 13-game schedule. Its has Wake Forest, Temple, Notre Dame, Delaware, Hawaii and Army left.

The Big 12 currently has 11 teams at .500 or above, but three are 3-3. You can probably figure on the BCS taking a second Big 12 team, so the Texas Bowl probably needs a ninth team to qualify.

Important note: As I understand the rules, a 6-6 team cannot fill a spot in a back-up agreement unless all the 7-win teams (in America) are accommodated. That came into play in 2006, when the Motor City Bowl had to take Middle Tennessee to fill the Big Ten slot.

But as I pointed out, only four 6-6 teams stayed home last year and all have sub-Marshall fan bases. Look at the tail end of some of the big conferences’ lineups for a potential game of musical chairs, including:

— GMAC, ACC No. 9
— Big East, if Notre Dame gobbles up Gator
— Detroit, Big Ten No. 7 (oh, please, no!)
— Birmingham, SEC No. 9 (the Sun Belt does have a backup agreement there, however)

C-USA has snugly fit its openings since realignment. SMU in 2006 is the only team to get left out … and if the Mustangs can qualify, you can probably pencil those guys in for Hawaii — coach June Jones can sell more tickets on the islands than all other humans in C-USA combined).

Now, it’s on to Herd vs. UAB … a battle for first place, if you can believe it.

All hail UAB!

The Blazers just stuck it to Southern Miss tonight, 30-17 … It was their first win over USM in 10 tries, and reversed a 70-14 disaster last night in Hattiesburg. Webb ran for 138, tossed another TD and the defense swarmed all over the yard. They picked off a pass and returned it for at TD with a minute left to seal the victory. Do keep in mind that Southern Miss played without Damion Fletcher and DeAndre Brown.

So… the Marshall-ECU winner takes sole possession of first place in the East. Really early, of course, but what the heck…