Conference USA

C-USA Bowl Projections: Three more teams seek eligibility; Can 10 get bids?

Southern Miss running back Ito Smith runs the ball against Charlotte during the game at Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg on Nov. 18.
Southern Miss running back Ito Smith runs the ball against Charlotte during the game at Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg on Nov. 18. Special to the Sun Herald

With UTSA joining Conference USA's bowl-eligible teams last week, three more are hoping to jump on board this week.

Middle Tennessee (5-6) and Old Dominion (5-6) meet at 2 p.m. Saturday in a game that will decide which team has a chance to extend its season. Louisiana Tech (5-6) has a shot to get its sixth win when it hosts UTSA at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

I like MTSU and La. Tech to pick up victories this weekend, giving Conference USA 10 bowl-eligible teams.

How many C-USA teams will actually receive bowl bids remains to be seen, but I'd say there are even odds that all 10 will go bowling. There are are a total of 78 bowl bids this season and somewhere around 77 to 79 teams will likely hit the six-win mark and gain eligibility.

At the moment, I see Middle Tennessee sitting at home at 6-6.

▪  Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 16) — UAB (7-4) vs. Fresno State (8-3) — UAB fell flat at Florida last week, but I still like the Blazers to land a decent bowl bid.

▪  Cure Bowl (Dec. 16) – WKU (6-5) vs. Georgia State (6-3) – This isn't a terribly sexy matchup for the the Hilltoppers, but a trip to Orlando isn't so bad.

▪  R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 16) — Louisiana Tech (5-6) vs. Troy (8-2) — Louisiana Tech will be on the bubble for a bowl bid if it gets to six wins, but the proximity to New Orleans should help the Bulldogs out. ULL appears headed to bowl eligibility again, but I'm betting the Cajuns get passed over by the New Orleans Bowl this year.

▪  Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 19) — Marshall (7-4) vs. Temple (5-6) — The Thundering Herd is fading late with three losses in the last four games.

▪  Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (Dec. 21) — Southern Miss (7-4) vs. South Florida (9-1) — I like the Golden Eagles to win at Marshall on Saturday and improve their bowl prospects. This won't be an easy trip for USM fans, but it would make for an intriguing matchup with a Top 25 USF squad.

▪  Bahamas Bowl (Dec. 22) — FIU (6-4) vs. Northern Illinois (8-3) — FIU should get to at least seven wins with UMass coming to Miami on Dec. 2.

▪  Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 23) — UTSA (6-4) vs. Army (8-3) — This game makes a lot of sense for the Roadrunners after clinching bowl eligibility with a 9-7 win over Marshall last week.

▪  Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dec. 26) — North Texas (8-3) vs. Utah (5-6) — With FAU scooping up the Independence Bowl, this would provide a nice backup plan for the Mean Green.

▪  Independence Bowl (Dec. 27) — Florida State (4-6) vs. FAU (8-3) — It's hard to see FAU turning down a shot to play the Seminoles in Shreveport.

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee

C-USA Power Rankings

1. FAU (8-3)

2. North Texas (8-3)

3. UAB (7-4)

4. Southern Miss (7-4)

5. FIU (6-4)

6. WKU (6-5)

7. UTSA (6-4)

8. Marshall (7-4)

9. La. Tech (5-6)

10. MTSU (5-6)

11. ODU (5-6)

12. Rice (1-10)

13. Charlotte (1-10)

14. UTEP (0-11)