Photo courtesy of Texas athletics
Entering Week, 9 there has been a lot of parity in college football.
In a year where it feels like anyone can beat anyone on any given day, predicting which teams will go bowling is difficult. Going week-by-week and predicting final records leads one to believe that there will not be enough bowl-eligible teams to fill every bowl spot.
With that being said, we have predicted which 82 teams will make a bowl game. This includes two teams that are projected to finish 5-7. The two 5-7 teams we predict to accept a bowl invitation will be Missouri and Nebraska.
AUTHOR’S NOTE FOR BACKGROUND: I worked for six different bowl games in the last few years. I am also included in the selection process for one bowl game.
This year, the bowls are looking to invite more local programs if possible. With the COVID-19 pandemic still pushing on, many bowls want to make easy commutes for players and fans alike. Locality will play a factor that goes beyond conference affiliation this season.
There is also a push for pairing the best matchups possible for TV purposes. The hope is to have more clarity on which teams will become bowl-eligible in the coming weeks, but at this point here is what we expect to happen.
Below is a list of projected bowl teams by conference:
Projected Bowl Teams by Conference
AAC (6): Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, and UCF
ACC (7): Boston College, Clemson, Louisville, NC State, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, and Virginia
Big Ten (9): Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska*, Purdue, and Wisconsin
Big 12 (6): Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas
Conference USA (9): Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, UAB, UTEP, and UTSA
Independents (4): Army, BYU, Liberty, and Notre Dame
MAC (9): Buffalo, Kent State, Miami University, Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Western Michigan
Mountain West (9): Air Force, Boise State, Utah State, Wyoming, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State and San Jose State
Pac-12 (7): Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona State, UCLA, USC, and Utah
SEC (12): Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri*, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M
Sun Belt (4): Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, and Louisiana
*Denotes invitation despite losing record