BG football has several bowl game options

Senior Reporter and Senior Reporter

At 8-4, BG is likely returning to a bowl game for the first time since 2009.

However, that likelihood is not a 100 percent certainty, even with eight wins. Since BG falls outside of the top-three in the Mid-American Conference, it will not have the security of making one of the MAC’s three guaranteed bowl games: the Little Caesar’s Bowl in Detroit, the Bowl in Mobile, Ala. or the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

Fortunately for the Falcons, the MAC has secondary bowl agreements with five bowls In the event that the particular bowl’s normal conference tie-in is not bowl eligible, a MAC school would likely be selected as the replacement.

Those bowls are the New Mexico Bowl — normally the No. 4 or 5 team in the Mountain West vs. the No. 7 team in the PAC-12 — the Beef O’Brady Bowl — No. 6 Big East vs. No. 4 Conference USA — the BBVA Compass Bowl — No. 5 Big East vs. No. 8 or 9 SEC — the Heart of Dallas Bowl — any eligible Big 12 vs. No. 7 Big Ten — and the Poinsettia Bowl — No. 2 Mountain West vs. any eligible WAC or BYU.

Of those bowls, the New Mexico Bowl, the Heart of Dallas and the Poinsettia Bowl will be filled, as there are enough bowl eligible teams in the respective conferences. However, the other two will need filling, as there are currently only four bowl eligible Big East teams.

That leaves two potential spots open for the Falcons: the Beef O’Brady Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla. and the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.

Either scenario would create an intriguing matchup for BG. In the Beef O’Brady Bowl, the opponent would be either Rice or SMU. The two tied for fourth in Conference USA, but Rice would hold the tiebreaker due to the head-to-head win.

In the BBVA Compass Bowl, the opponent would be either Ole Miss, Mississippi State or Vanderbilt. Mississippi State and Vanderbilt tied for seventh in the SEC, but did not play each other this season. Ole Miss finished ninth.

Another potential option is the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C. In past years, when the No. 8 ACC team was not eligible for the game, the bowl took a MAC school, such as Toledo this past season. The reality of that bowl will lie on this weekend’s Georgia Tech — Florida State game.

If Georgia Tech wins, there will be eight bowl eligible ACC teams. If it loses, the Yellow Jackets will be 6-7 and will need to gain an NCAA waiver to be bowl eligible. Since there are more than enough bowl eligible teams, the success of that waiver would be in doubt.

One other thing that could throw a wrench into things is Kent State. If the Flashes defeat Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game and then get some help — meaning Stanford dismantles UCLA in the PAC-12 title game — then Kent State will make a BCS Bowl.

Yep, you heard that right. If Kent State, currently No. 17 in the BCS standings, cracks the top-16, it will automatically qualify for a BCS bowl by virtue of finishing in front of the Big East champion (which still hasn’t been determined) in the BCS standings.

It would be the first time in the history of the BCS that a school from a non-automatic qualifying conference made the BCS with a loss on its record.

However, Kent State moving into the BCS would not likely affect BG in terms of bowls with guaranteed MAC tie-ins, as Northern Illinois, Toledo and Ball State all finished ahead of the Falcons in the MAC.

Disclaimer: Projecting bowl games is confusing and not always accurate. Just because this is how things look to be lining up doesn’t mean it’s how they go. There are currently 73 bowl eligible teams for 70 bowl slots, meaning there is a chance — albeit small — that BG is on the outside looking in on the postseason.

But things are looking good for BG to make a return trip to the postseason.