Week 14 Bowl Projections

We knew the final five games of the season were going to be rough and were they ever. Barnett was playing injured or not playing in all of them, Oladokun and Kean were rotated in and out to no particular rhyme or reason, Strong consistently did himself no favors at the podium, and Gilbert’s playcalling found new lows to end the season. The only positive takeaways from the last few games is that the defense showed signs of turning the corner and getting back on track for 2019 and Gilbert cannot possibly still have a job in Tampa for 2019.

For those not familiar, the following are the bowls the AAC has direct tie-ins to besides having the CFP Committee's option to place the AAC champion in the Fiesta or Peach bowl:

- Birmingham Bowl vs. SEC
- Gasparilla Bowl vs. ACC
- Frisco Bowl vs. MAC
- Military Bowl vs. ACC
- Armed Forces Bowl vs. Big 12
- Boca Raton Bowl vs. C-USA
- Cure Bowl vs. Sun Belt

The AAC also serves as an alternate to the Independence and Liberty Bowls if the primary tie-in conferences cannot fill their slot.

So, where does a 7-5 team in freefall go bowling in the American Athletic Conference?

Gasparilla Bowl

- USF vs. Miami

Sports Illustrated
- USF vs. Wake Forest

College Football News
- USF vs. UAB

The Action Network
- USF vs. Virginia

NBC Sports
- USF vs. Boston College

Cure Bowl

CBS Sports
- USF vs. ULM

College Sports Madness
- USF vs. Georgia Southern

Sporting News
- USF vs. Arkansas State

Boca Raton
- USF vs. UAB

Bleacher Report (J. Tansey)
- USF vs. FIU

Orlando Sentinel
- USF vs. FIU

ESPN (Bonagura)
- USF vs. UAB

Athlon Sports
- USF vs. Middle Tennessee

Military Bowl

ESPN (Sherman)
- USF vs. Georgia Tech

I moved the commentary for the selections all to the end of the post this time, but really Sherman? Military Bowl is out of our league now, and a rematch against Georgia Tech when we would have to play them again next year too! I am just going to pretend I did not see this.

Making Sense of the AAC and USF’s Bowl Situation

The AAC has 7 direct bowl tie-ins and exactly 7 bowl eligible teams. Bowl games are assigned in the AAC by what makes the most sense for the bowl and the higher ranked teams usually getting the nod to face any Power 5 opponent. As long as UCF defeats Memphis in the AAC Championship, they will secure their place in a NY6 bowl and leave one of the AAC’s bowls unfilled. Navy and ECU cannot become bowl eligible by winning their final games of the season, so these projections will be considered the final projections unless Memphis defeats UCF and gives the NY6 berth to the Mountain West.

USF is not a team anyone would consider at this time to be playing confident or well coached, and that could play into whether we lose the chance to play an ACC opponent in the Gasparilla Bowl. The ACC currently has 10 bowl eligible teams, and likely 11 once 5-6 Virginia Tech plays Marshall this weekend. So, the ACC should be sending a team to the Gasparilla Bowl for only their second time this year.

According to Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times, Cure Bowl representatives were at The War on I-4. With our performance in the final four games of the season, I would consider the Cure Bowl to be our most likely destination as I can’t see the conference having much faith in USF representing the AAC against a P5 opponent now, even with our win over 7-5 Georgia Tech earlier in the season.

My take on how the AAC bowl schedule will look:

- Peach/Fiesta Bowl: UCF vs. Florida
- Birmingham Bowl: Memphis vs. Vanderbilt
- Gasparilla Bowl: Temple vs. Wake Forest
- Frisco Bowl: Tulane vs. Miami (OH)
- Military Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Boston College
- Armed Forces Bowl: Houston vs. Oklahoma State
- Cure Bowl: USF vs. Georgia Southern
- Boca Raton Bowl: The AAC will not send a team to Boca

The SEC will most likely not send a team to the Independence Bowl, therefore opening the possibility for the AAC to send one of its teams I have listed in a P5 matchup to face the ACC in Shreveport and opening a spot for us to play in the Gasparilla Bowl. However, it is possible that the Independence Bowl scenario happens, and Army takes one the AAC’s spots in the Military or Armed Forces bowl. Thus, keeping us in the Cure or Boca Raton Bowl.

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