With Notre Dame’s win over USC tonight, the Irish are now eligible to take the Big East’s spot in the Champ Sports Bowl, meaning that the Big East now only has 5 tie-ins to bowl games. Instead of the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, Louisville will now have to be considered an At-Large and make a bowl game that way. Assuming that the four At-Large BCS spots are filled by TCU, the Big 10, the Pac 10, and the SEC, there are no teams within the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Conference USA, MAC, SEC, Sun Belt, and WAC that can’t fill bowl game bids. While the MWC has one open bid with the Armed Forces Bowl, Army will likely fill this. This leaves the Big Ten and Pac 10 with open bids. These games are:
Dec. 22nd – Las Vegas Bowl (Pac 10 5th)
Dec. 26th – Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (Big 10 8th)
Dec. 30th – Holiday Bowl (Pac 10 3rd)
Dec. 31st – Sun Bowl (Pac 10 4th)
Jan. 9th – Kraft Fights Hunger Bowl (Pac 10 6th)
This means that five spots are still open. However, before Louisville can fill a bowl bid, Ohio and Toledo would get two bowl bids ahead of them, as both the At-Large MAC schools finished with 8-4 records. Additionally, because the ACC had nine teams qualify for eight spots, there’s a clause with the Kraft Fights Hunger Bowl that would allow 6-6 Georgia Tech to play there, as there’s no chance the Pac 10 will be able to fill that last spot with Stanford all but expected to get an At-Large (more on this later). That leaves two At-Large bids. The only other teams with At-Large aspirations are 6-6 Western Michigan, plus potentially Louisiana Tech and Idaho (both at 5-6).
However, those two bids can be filled next weekend. First off, two Pac-10 teams are at 5-6 and can play their way in: Washington (at Washington State) and Oregon State (vs. Oregon). Thankfully, unless Oregon pulls a 2006 USC collapse, they should win, though Washington should have no problem with WSU. That should leave Louisville with the Little Caesar’s Bowl, right?
Not quite; there’s a clause in the Little Caesar’s that should a Big 10 not be able to fill that slot, then a Sun Belt would serve as a backup. While the Top 2 Sun Belt teams are locked in, there’s potentially a third team that could reach bowl eligibility next weekend: Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders need to win at FIU next weekend; if they succeed, they’ll be locked into the Little Caesars Bowl. While FIU is first in the Sun Belt currently, and MTSU lost to MEMPHIS of all teams, it is the Sun Belt; wacky things happen.
Plain and simple, Louisville needs two of Washington, Oregon State, and Middle Tennessee State to lose. Of the eligible 6-6 teams, we are by far the most attractive. However, we need Washington State, Oregon, and FIU (especially these latter two) to pull their weight next weekend. Let’s Go Cards, Cougars, Ducks, and Panthers.