The Conference USA bowl lineup is coming more into focus as we draw closer to the weekend.
There’s some wheeling and dealing that may take place before all bowls are made official by Sunday, but many of the match-ups will likely make their way out by Saturday night.
North Texas (9-3) and Florida Atlantic (9-3) are set to play at 11 a.m. on Saturday for the C-USA title with the Owls serving as an 11 ½-point favorite.
North Texas seems to prefer a destination bowl while FAU and FIU will likely stay close to home in Florida.
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At the moment, the Independence Bowl seems likely to play host to Southern Miss. The opponent for that game is uncertain, but the ACC will probably fulfill its tie-in.
I still see nine of the 10 bowl-eligible Conference USA teams receiving bowl bids with Middle Tennessee likely being left out.
There will probably be 81 eligible teams for the 40 bowl games with Florida State (5-6) and New Mexico State (5-6) joining the crowd on Saturday. FSU plays host to Louisiana-Monroe (4-7) and NMSU will host South Alabama on Saturday.
The C-USA team most difficult to project is WKU. There’s really no telling where the Hilltoppers land in a bowl game, if at all.
Here are your new Conference USA Bowl Projections:
▪ Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 16) — UTSA (6-5) vs. Fresno State (9-3) — This would be a second consecutive trip to New Mexico for the Roadrunners.
▪ Cure Bowl (Dec. 16) – Marshall (7-5) vs. Appalachian State (7-4) — A trip to Orlando isn’t such a bad falling place for the Thundering Herd.
▪ R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 16) — North Texas (9-3) vs. Troy (9-2) — The Mean Green want to go some place where their fans and players can have a good time. If that’s their goal, this is where I’d go.
▪ Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 19) — FIU (7-4) vs. Temple (6-6) — The Panthers will get to stay close to home and celebrate a turnaround season.
▪ Frisco Bowl (Dec. 20) — WKU (6-6) vs. SMU (7-5) — Like I said, WKU could wind up in a bunch of different places but this seems like a decent possibility.
▪ Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (Dec. 21) — South Florida (9-2) vs. FAU (9-3) — This would be an attractive pairing for TV and should draw a pretty good crowd in St. Petersburg. It appears Navy will be in the Military Bowl and Houston is headed to Hawaii so the bowl options are running out for South Florida. The Birmingham Bowl can’t seem all that attractive for USF.
▪ Bahamas Bowl* (Dec. 22) — UAB (8-4) vs. Ohio (8-4) — This game is already set.
▪ Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 23) — La. Tech (6-6) vs. Army (8-3) — Louisiana Tech fans have traveled well to the DFW area and I’m sure bowl officials have taken note of that.
▪ Independence Bowl (Dec. 27) — Southern Miss (8-4) vs. Florida State (5-6) — The ACC could also send either Duke or Wake Forest to the Independence Bowl, but Florida State is a good possibility. Again, don’t be surprised if there’s some swapping done between bowl games this weekend.
*Matchup already set for bowl