Keeping Score

C-USA Bowl Projections: There's movement in week 8

By PATRICK MAGEE

pmagee@sunherald.com

Twitter: @Patrick_Magee

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDSouthern Miss receiver Mike Thomas runs for a first down after catching a Nick Mullens pass, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDSouthern Miss receiver Mike Thomas runs for a first down after catching a Nick Mullens pass, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. SUN HERALD

It's week eight and it's still unclear whether Conference USA will fulfill its seven bowl tie-ins.

After Middle Tennessee's 42-34 win over FIU Saturday, both teams sit at 3-4. The two squads have a shot at reaching six wins and bowl eligibility, but we'll just have to wait and see if they can get the league's final two bids.

Here is the week eight version of Conference USA's bowl projections:

Gildan New Mexico Bowl – Rice vs. Air Force – 1 p.m., Dec. 19 (ESPN)

The postseason picture in the Mountain West became a little more complicated with Utah State beating Boise State, 52-26, Saturday. It's unlikely that Boise State will earn a major bowl bid, limiting postseason options in the conference. If Rice (3-3, 2-1) and Air Force (3-3) meet in Albuquerque, it will be a rematch of the 2012 Armed Forces Bowl.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – Southern Miss vs. Arkansas State – 8 p.m., Dec. 19 (ESPN) 

I had South Alabama vs. USM a week ago, but that appears very unlikely following the Jaguars' second-half collapse in a 49-31 loss to Arkansas State last week. UL-Lafayette (2-3) is still a viable opponent for USM in this game, but it has to travel to Arkansas State (3-3) for a game on Tuesday.

Miami Beach Bowl – Western Kentucky vs. Temple –  1:30 p.m., Dec. 21 (ESPN)

WKU (6-1, 4-0) appears destined to win Conference USA and should face a very good team out of the American Athletic Conference in Miami. The Temple Owls are ranked No. 22 and 6-0.

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl – FIU vs. Ohio – 11 a.m., Dec. 24 (ESPN)

FIU will need to win its next three games against ODU, FAU and Charlotte to reach bowl eligibility and I think there's a good chance the Panthers do it. They close out the season with Marshall and WKU.

St. Petersburg Bowl - Marshall vs. Houston - 10 a.m., Dec. 26th (ESPN)

Marshall could be a threat to a banged up WKU in the regular season finale, but the Thundering Herd is a good fit for St. Petersburg at the moment. Like WKU, Marshall should face a good AAC team in the postseason.

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl - Louisiana Tech vs. Texas - 1:20 p.m., Dec. 26 (ESPN)

I think the Longhorns get to 6-6 and become bowl eligible. This may not be the most prestigious bowl game, but it gives Texas a shot to play in front of the Longhorn faithful at the Cotton Bowl.

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl - Colorado State vs. Middle Tennessee - Dec. 29

Middle Tennessee will likely lose its next two games against Louisiana Tech and Marshall, but it could easily win its final three contests - at FAU, North Texas and at Texas-San Antonio. C-USA's most inconsistent team has to make a strong close to the season.

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