FOOTBALL: MAC Bowls still uncertain

Five teams will go to bowls for second straight year

The season is over for Ball State University, but five other Mid-American Conference teams are awaiting invitations to bowl games. 

That wait should end when the BCS bowl matchups are announced Sunday and the rest of the bowl lineup falls into place. But it looks like the bowl picture could remain clouded for another week. 

All five MAC teams with at least seven wins will be invited to a bowl game this year. The conference has tie-ins with three bowls, but the remaining two will still get an invitation because other conferences are unable to fill their slots. 

Their destinations appeared pretty clear at the start of the week, but a few developments have changed that.  

The University of Notre Dame's decision to sit out a bowl rather than play a MAC team has opened a few possibilities for all bowl games with at-large spots.  

UCLA has become the most desirable 6-6 team and could be headed to the Humanitarian Bowl. Kevin McDonald, the bowl's executive, told the Idaho Statesman early in the week that a Bowling Green State University-University of Idaho matchup was a "strong possibility." But McDonald has since changed his tune, telling the Statesman that he wants UCLA. 

But Bowling Green still has to go to a bowl. That opens the possibility that two MAC schools will meet in one of the conference's three bowl games. All parties involved would like to avoid that possibility, but it's unclear what the NCAA could do to prevent it.  

Central Michigan University appears headed for the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala. after defeating Ohio University 20-10 in the MAC Championship Game. The GMAC Bowl has the first pick of the MAC games. 

The ACC is contracted to the bowl as well, but doesn't have enough bowl eligible teams, so a replacement will have to be found. One of the more likely possibilities is the Sun Belt Conference Champion Troy University. 

Last year's GMAC Bowl pitted Ball State against Tulsa University. The Golden Hurricane thumped the Cardinals 45-13 in Stan Parrish's head coaching debut. 

Ohio, the surprising MAC East champions, will probably head back to Detroit for the Little Caesars Bowl. That game is supposed to pit the MAC against the Big Ten, but because either the University of Iowa or Penn State University is likely to make the BCS as an at-large, the conference will again be unable to fill that commitment.  

This could be where Bowling Green ends up, though UCLA is also a possibility. In that case, Central Michigan might be persuaded to stay at home and play in Detroit for the seventh time in four years.   

Temple University, which almost found its way into the top-25 two weeks ago, is likely headed to the Eagle Bank Bowl. Army is contracted to play in this bowl, but has not reached bowl eligibility yet. The Black Knights are 5-6, needing a win against Navy next week to send them to Washington, D.C. The Midshipmen are 14-point favorites.  

The International Bowl, the MAC's third game, will likely take Northern Illinois University. Northern Illinois could face Rutgers University, which ran all over Ball State two years ago in the game. Temple is also a possibility for this game, but it is believed the school's alumni would prefer the shorter trip to Washington, than Toronto. 

Because of the late date of the Army-Navy game, some bowls may not send their invitations until Dec. 12. For the MAC bowls that are announced Sunday, The Ball State Daily News will have a full breakdown in Monday's edition.


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