Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Toronto or Birmingham, anyone?

I updated my bowl projections in a story for Monday's Register. Here it is.

By Chip Malafronte, Register Staff
TAMPA , Fla. — A disappointing loss at South Florida on Sunday night destroyed the UConn football team's chance of a New Year's Day date at the Orange Bowl.The Huskies were eliminated from title contention in the Big East following their 17-13 loss at Raymond James Stadium, their dreams of a BCS bid put on hold until another season.

But having already reached the magic seven-win barrier, UConn will be playing in a bowl game somewhere in December or January. The question is ... where? If the final two weeks of the regular season shake out as expected in the Big East, the Huskies may be playing for a spot in the International Bowl in Toronto when they face Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale on Dec. 6 at Rentschler Field.

First, here's a look at bowl scenarios for other conference teams and Notre Dame, part of the Big East's bowl contract with the Gator and Sun Bowls.

Cincinnati can clinch a BCS spot by defeating last-place Syracuse on Saturday. Prediction: Orange Bowl for the Bearcats.

Notre Dame, should it pull off the upset over Southern California in its final game, will likely be selected for the Gator Bowl. But the chances of knocking off the far superior Trojans are remote. If the Irish lose, and Rutgers beats Louisville on Dec. 4, Notre Dame is ineligible to be taken for either the Gator or Sun over six Big East teams with seven wins. Prediction: The Irish finish 6-6 and wind up in a non-Big East affiliated bowl. The Gator opts for a Big XII team. The Sun takes West Virginia.

West Virginia has games left with Pittsburgh and South Florida and must win while hoping Syracuse upsets Cincinnati to gain the league's BCS bid. It's unlikely. Prediction: The Mountaineers, with perhaps the largest fan base in the league, will end up at the Sun Bowl in El Paso as long as it splits the final two games. They could get an invite even with two losses.

South Florida, having won its seventh game Sunday, is expected to be invited to the St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 20. The bowl, in its first year, would love the hometown Bulls to boost attendance. The league's other bowl games will comply. Prediction: St. Pete.

Rutgers faces Louisville in its final game Dec. 4 and needs a win to reach seven wins to assure it can be considered for any of the bowls with conference tie-ins and keep Notre Dame out of the Sun Bowl. If the Scarlet Knights win, as expected, it would be in consideration for the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, the International Bowl and the Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. Prediction: The Meineke Bowl snags Rutgers, along with the New York television market and the Scarlet Knights' large traveling fan base.

Louisville needs to defeat Rutgers on the road to get to six wins and become bowl eligible. Since six-win teams can't be placed in conference-affiliated bowl games ahead of seven-win teams, the Cardinals would be sent to any game with an opening. Prediction: Struggling Louisville fails to get the sixth win and stays home for the holidays.

That leaves UConn and Pittsburgh, both with seven wins at the moment. The Panthers could get a leg up by upsetting West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl on Friday night, making Pitt a bit more appealing for the Meineke Bowl. More likely, Pitt will come to East Hartford on Dec. 6 with an identical record as the Huskies, both overall and in conference.The winner should be considered the favorite for Toronto on Jan. 3. And the loser, as long as Rutgers gets its seventh win, is likely headed to Birmingham.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chip assuming what you say comes to pass. Does the International Bowl take the winner of UConn/Pitt and the loser heads to the Papajohn's? I'm not sure Toronto is a more desirable place than Birmingham at this time of the year. I know from talking to some of the players they would MUCH rather go to a warm site.

November 26, 2008 9:38 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never mind Chip re read the blog you answered my question at the end didn't comprehend the first time.LOL

November 26, 2008 9:48 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chip, I've never been to Toronto. But I have been to Birmingham and it is a grade A dump. You'd better pray for Toronto. It'll be colder for sure, but it'll smell better. Last time I checked the SEC wasn't going to have enough teams bowl eligible to send there. Is that still the case? Or is a team like Troy headed there?

November 26, 2008 1:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get your long johns ready for next Sat night at the runway and also for Toronto. Pitt's win makes us more likely to be in prime time on Dec 6th and singing "Oh Canada" before the game. Update those passports!

Also it surely divides the Sun & Meineke bolws among Pitt and WVU. If bowls don't like repeat teams, Rutgers goes to Birmingham and UCONN goes to the home of the hockey hall of fame and the greatest "niche" rock band of all time -- RUSH!! "Be cool or be cast out!"

November 28, 2008 8:08 PM 

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