So we're three games from the end of the season and we've managed to rack up five wins. Whats better, we have one team left on our schedule that is intramurals-level bad. That means we are officially starting to show up on people's Bowl Projection lists.
(It's actually very easy to find Iowa State on these lists. Find Oregon, and go to the exact opposite side of the page.)
So assuming we don't completely crap the bed against CU, it could be time to look at potential bowl trip locations.
The Big XII affiliated bowls choose their teams in the following order:
1. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ)
2. Cotton Bowl Classic (Arlington, TX)
3. Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)
4. Insight Bowl (Tempe, AZ)
5. Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA)
6. Texas Bowl (Houston, TX)
7. Pinstripe Bowl (Bronx, NY)
8. Dallas Football Classic (Dallas, TX)
The other main rules in play are that the Big XII Championship Game winner always goes to Glendale, and the winner of the other division can be picked no lower than 4th. And finally, as always with bowl games, putting fans in the seats will get you invited to a better bowl. Bowl committees must pick teams that have a record equal to or one game worse than the best record currently available to pick from.
Highest we could currently climb: Tostitos Fiesta (If we somehow win out.)
Lowest we could sink: Out of contention (If we somehow lose out.)
Current Bowl Weather Forecast: Cold, with a Bronx Accent
Current Prognostication: New Era Inaugural Pinstripe Bowl
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-1) v. TCU Horned Frogs
Look, I know they got beat by a bad Texas team. Hasn't Kansas beating Georgia Tech taught us that anyone can lose to anyone on a given day? Barring an unforseen miracle at the Jack this weekend, there is no reason Nebraska should not win the rest of their games. In a fitting farewell to the Big 8, Nebraska tops Oklahoma in the championship game and punches a ticket to Glendale to take on one of the two undefeated mid-majors left at the end of the season - let's say TCU for now.
A dejected Big XII South champion gets relegated to the Cotton Bowl. As far as consolation prizes go, a high profile New Year's Day bowl against an SEC giant-killer isn't terrible. If both Auburn and Alabama do not make it to BCS games, expect to replace South Carolina with LSU.
At this point in the proceedings, I feel like we owe a high five to our south cellar dwelling companions, Baylor, who also beat up on Texas. I think they get by OSU and A&M but lose their last game (and a shot at the Big XII CG) to Oklahoma. Still, their first bowl game in forever and only 184 miles from campus? The Alamo Bowl would sell out overnight. Instead of a middling Big Ten pick, the Alamo bow takes the runner up in the Pac-10. (Which will realistically be whoever wins the Arizona/Stanford game this weekend.)
Mizzou plays Texas Tech, KSU, ISU, and KU to close out the season. Four games that they should easily win, but it's always hard to gauge how a team will react after a big loss like the one to Nebraska. I think there is a letdown and somehow they lose in a complete offensive shootout to Tech. In other news, the oft-maligned Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl now has the 4th pick out of both the Big XII and the Big Ten. This is a game that ISU has won twice, and as recently as last year. Unless This is Ferentz's year to finally crack the puzzle that is Tresselball, I see Iowa ending up here behind Wisconsin, MSU, and Ohio State.
It's not that I don't like Oklahoma State. It's just that it's hard to take their 7-1 record seriously when they've played an easier schedule than Utah thus far. Wins over Texas Tech and A&M don't mean what they once did. I think OSU drops two more games this year, to Baylor and Oklahoma. 9-3 earns them a trip to San Diego against the 3rd pick from the Pac-10.
Kansas State, at 5-3, still has Colorado and North Texas on the schedule. I don't see any other team in the conference with a clear path to 7 wins, so KSU gets to take on the 6th pick from the Big Ten, another set of purple-clad Wildcats.
As of right now, five teams in the Big XII are bowl eligible, and no teams have been mathematically eliminated. Of the remaining Big XII picks, Iowa State (5-4), Texas A&M (5-3), Texas (4-4) and Texas Tech (4-4) all have reasonable paths to bowl eligibility. (I'm counting KU and CU down for the count for now.) Of these schools, ISU has the easiest path, just needing a win over Colorado. Plus, Cyclone Nation has traveled pretty well throughout the years. In a blatant show of homerism, I think we get the nod ahead of the other 6-6 teams, and end up playing another cold weather bowl game, this time in the Bronx.
Texas needs to win two of it's last four games to become bowl eligible. Fortunately, three of those games are against KSU, A&M, and non-conference patsy FAU. Texas will win the last two games to crawl to eligibility and a spot in the old Cotton Bowl stadium. Greg Davis gets the axe before the Longhorns ever leave Austin. Assumine 8 teams get to bowl eligibility in the Big 10, expect Michigan in what would have been a great game ten years ago.
With Boise State heading off to a BCS game, the WAC may end up having a hard time filling all it's bowl requirements. Hawaii has accepted a bid to their own bowl, and Nevada will likely be tabbed for the Humanitarian, leaving the Kraft Fight Hunger (shut up yes it's a real bowl name) and the New Mexico bowl needing teams. Let's say Fresno ends up in the New Mexico for geographical reasons and that leaves us with the
I can't see Kansas or Colorado turning it around, and A&M's best shot at getting to 6-6 is to upset Texas the last week of the season. Texas Tech, however, still has two very winnable games against Weber State and Houston. I think TTU wins both of those games to get to 6-6.The WAC normally plays the Pac-10's 6th best team, which in a complete guess I'm going to say will be Arizona State.
And what about the experts who do this for a living?
Mark Schlabach from ESPN.com has us playing Miami (OH) in the New Mexico Bowl, while Andrea Adelson stacks us up against Ohio in a triumphant return to the Humanitarian Bowl. CBS Sports has us playing Idaho in the New Mexico Bowl.