Conference USA

C-USA Bowl Projections: With 9 set to earn bids, the field is expanded

Southern Miss cornerback Curtis Mikell celebrates a play on defense during the Sept. 2 season opener against Kentucky in Hattiesburg.
Southern Miss cornerback Curtis Mikell celebrates a play on defense during the Sept. 2 season opener against Kentucky in Hattiesburg. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

If a team hits six wins, there’s a pretty good chance it will end up with a bowl bid.

There will be 78 bowl berths to fill this season and I’m projecting nine bowl-eligible teams out of Conference USA – FAU (7-3), FIU (6-3), Marshall (7-3), Middle Tennessee (5-5), WKU (5-5), North Texas (7-3), UAB (7-3), Southern Miss (6-4) and Louisiana Tech (4-6).

That list could grow to as many as 10 or 11 if UTSA (5-4) or Old Dominion (4-6) find a way to six wins over the next two weeks.

UTSA has to beat Marshall Saturday or take down Louisiana Tech in Ruston in the regular season finale to reach bowl eligibility. Tech’s odds of reaching six wins may actually be a little better considering it travels to UTEP (0-10) on Saturday.

ODU has a decent shot at getting to six wins with a home game against Rice (1-9) and a trip to MTSU in the regular season finale.

Here’s a newly expanded version of my bowl projections:

▪  Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 16) — UAB (7-3) vs. Fresno State (7-3) — I’m picking the Blazers to take down Florida on Saturday. This would be an attractive Group of 5 bowl matchup.

▪  R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 16) — Southern Miss (6-4) vs. Troy (8-2) — The Golden Eagles could end up in a variety of bowls, but New Orleans always seems to make the most sense.

▪  Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 19) — Marshall (7-3) vs. Temple (5-5) — The Herd improved its postseason standing by beating WKU 30-23 last week.

▪  Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (Dec. 21) — FAU (7-3) vs. South Florida (9-1) — FAU can lock up a spot in the C-USA title game with a win over FIU on Saturday.

▪  Bahamas Bowl (Dec. 22) — FIU (6-3) vs. Northern Illinois (8-3) — FIU lost 37-30 to ODU last week, but Butch Davis has done a great job in his first seeason.

▪  Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 23) — Louisiana Tech (4-6) vs. Army (8-2) — Louisiana Tech has a relatively easy path to bowl eligibility, but nothing has come easy for the Bulldogs this season.

▪  Independence Bowl (Dec. 27) — North Texas (7-3) vs. Virginia (6-4) — North Texas can sleep walk to the C-USA West title with UTEP and Rice serving as two remaining conference games

▪  Cure Bowl (Dec. 16) – WKU (5-5) vs. Georgia State (6-3) – WKU needs to beat MTSU in Bowling Green this weekend to guarantee itself bowl eligibility. It closes out the regular season at FIU.

▪  Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dec. 26) — Middle Tennessee (5-5) vs. UNLV (4-6) — If the bowl can provide a quality opponent, North Texas may decide to go here for a second consecutive season.

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee

C-USA Power Rankings

1. FAU (7-3)

2. North Texas (7-3)

3. UAB (7-3)

4. Southern Miss (6-4)

5. FIU (6-3)

6. Marshall (7-3)

7. WKU (5-5)

8. UTSA (5-4)

9. MTSU (5-5)

10. La. Tech (4-6)

11. ODU (4-6)

12. Charlotte (1-9)

13. Rice (1-9)

14. UTEP (0-10)

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