FUN With Bowl Breakdowns!

Ok, not really. But I thought I’d do some nosing around and see who’s eligible, and how long the odds actually are IF the Pac-10 doesn’t go the extra mile and Tom Hansen puts his tail between his legs (again).

The following is a breakdown of 6 and, in some cases, 7 win teams. Things start to crystalize pretty quick as you go through the list.

6-6 teams:
FSU (6-6)
Miami (6-6)

Analysis: 8 bowl-eligible teams, 8 bowl tie-ins = nobody gets left out. UNLESS Miami or FSU turn down a bowl bid to the MPC Computers bowl. Hey, when you consider a sexy Florida school in Boise on New Year’s Eve?!? Wouldn’t you rather stay home and party on south beach? So would I! Can’t even fathom how uninterested FSU or Miami fans would be to take in that game, let alone even watch it on TV after a 6-6 season, which is normally an unmitigated DISASTER for them. I’ll say that there is a “sliver” of hope that WSU could sneak in here, but it’s a pretty big long-shot now that the ACC has 8 bowl-eligible teams.

BIG 12:
Kansas (6-6)
Oklahoma State (6-6)
Analysis: Like ACC, 8 bowl tie-ins, but 9 bowl-eligible teams. OSU is rumored for the Independence Bowl, in fact it’s virtually guaranteed, so it’s Kansas headed to the wildcard group, which I’ll list below all this.

Big East:
Analysis: Big East only gets 5 bowl tie-ins, as Navy as an independent got the Meinke Car Care Bowl. Pitt is in the wild-card grouping.

Big Ten:
Analysis: All 7 bowl-eligible teams in the Big Ten are spoken for, including Iowa and Minnesota.
Analysis: Navy and Notre Dame are both already in bowls, Navy in the Meinke Car Care Bowl, ND headed for the obligatory BCS game.

Kent State
N. Illinois (7 wins, but listed here)
Analysis: This is where it hurts the Pac-10, and particularly WSU, the most. This conference has 5 teams that are bowl-eligible, including 7-win N. Illinois, but only 3 bowl tie-ins. That puts both N.Illinois and Kent State in the wild-card groupings.

Mountain West:
New Mexico
Analysis: Mountain West has 5 bowl-eligible teams, but just 4 bowl tie-ins. New Mexico goes to the New Mexico bowl, accepting the bowl bid already, so Wyoming is in the wild-card grouping.

Analysis: As we’ve been over several times, the pac-10 has 8 bowl-eligible teams, but just 6 bowl tie-ins. All indications are that UCLA has a back-door deal with Hawaii already done, yet nothing is final. There are various scenarios that we’ve touched on, but if all things are equal and the Pac-10 takes the easy way out, LIKELY we’ll see UCLA claim spot #6, leaving Arizona and WSU in the wildcard group.

Analysis: SEC has 8 bowl tie-ins, but 9 bowl-eligible teams with Alabama as the only 6-win team in the conference. They are in the wild-card group.

Sun Belt:
Arkansas State
Analysis: Just 1 bowl tie-in here, which goes to Middle Tennessee. The other 6-win teams go into the wild-card groupings, and quite frankly, must be placed at the bottom of any/all lists for bowls.
San Jose State
Analysis: San Jose State actually has 7 wins, but with the WAC only having 6 bowl tie-ins, they are on the list here as a wild-card team.

Kansas – 6-6
Pitt – 6-6
N. Illinois – 7-5
Kent State – 6-6
Wyoming – 6-6
Arizona – 6-6
WSU – 6-6
Alabama – 6-6
Arkansas State – 6-6
Louisiana-Lafayette – 6-6
Troy – 6-6
San Jose State – 7-5

Now, remove N. Illinois and San Jose State, as they are guaranteed to get a bowl game based on having 7 wins (totally BOGUS!). Now you are left with the following:
Kent State – 6-6
Wyoming – 6-6
Arizona – 6-6
WSU – 6-6
Alabama – 6-6
Arkansas State – 6-6
Louisiana-Lafayette – 6-6
Troy – 6-6
Kansas – 6-6
Pitt – 6-6

That’s 10 teams with 6 wins. But, guess what? There is ONLY 1 SPOT available, after you place N. Illinois and San Jose State! That’s right, with those 7-win teams placed, that’s 63 teams in bowl games, and only 1 spot available.

With that pool of 10 teams, using the process of elimination, we can remove Kent State, Wyoming, Ark St, La-Lafayette, and Troy, as they lose out in any/all comparisons to the higher-level BCS conferences. Then, I believe you can remove Pitt, as people walk around and bitch about WSU losing their last 3, but it was even worse for Pitt, losers of their last 5. And, I think you can probably remove Kansas, as even though they won 3 of their last 4, they still have some cupcake city wins (Northwestern State? Louisiana-Monroe? South Florida? Toledo?). They have ZERO wins to hang their hat on in 2006, so I can’t imagine they’d have any reason to be ahead of AZ, WSU or Alabama. So they are out.

That leaves us with Arizona, WSU and Alabama.

Yes, Alabama is an SEC school, but they lost 3 of their last 4 games, with their only win coming against Florida International. Their best win turns out to be their best win of the season, vs. Hawaii to open 2006, but otherwise, they didn’t beat another bowl team. Plus, depending on what you read, Mike Shula is probably on his way out, and a 6-6 record down there is reason to fly the flags at half-mast. So, in my mind? See ya later Bama.

Finally, it’s between Arizona and WSU. And, in the end, if I had to make that pick? I’d have to pick Arizona, and for some very good reasons:
1) Arizona was the hottest team in the Pac-10 down the stretch, outside of USC, winning 3 of their last 4, including wins at WSU when we were ranked, at Oregon when Oregon was ranked, and over a highly-ranked Cal team.
2) WSU cannot match that, as our signature wins are over Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA, but that’s it. And, WSU lost their last 3 games to finish at 6-6.
3) Finally, of course, head-to-head. Arizona went into Pullman and won a huge game for them, totally turning around their season and building their confidence while really dousing WSU in some cold, wet reality.

So there we have it. Worst-case scenario, we’re going to be in the final mix of bowl teams on the table, but we WILL lose out. Our only saving grace at this point? Hope like hell that Tom Hansen grows a pair all of a sudden and demands his 6-win teams are placed by the bowl tie-ins, and let ASU (which is now “Dirk-less” after firing Koetter tonight) and Oregon get their at-large bids, knocking the unworthy N. Illinois and even San Jose State out of the picture!