Posted: 5:42 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013
By Matt Daley
No more speculation necessary. We now know who will be going where for the postseason, as well as which teams have the misfortune of no postseason at all. Are you ready for a surprise?
The official word has come down from the Mid-American Conference. Here are your 2013-2014 bowl teams!
The Buffalo Bulls will open the bowl season for the MAC in just two weeks when they face San Diego State in their first-ever trip to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The Bulls, who went 8-4 in the regular season, face a 7-5 San Diego State team that lost in overtime to Fresno State and defeated both Boise State and San Diego State. This should be a fun game (and you would think Buffalo would have the weather advantage).
Surprise! In what has to be a shocking upset for the folks in both Toledo and Athens, the Ohio Bobcats get the MAC's fifth and final bowl bid instead of the Toledo Rockets. Ohio finished 7-5 and did lose three consecutive November games by a combined 123-16, but they won their final game 51-23. Toledo, who also finished 7-5, lost their final two games, including a 31-29 heart-breaker in the season finale at Akron. The Rockets will now have to live with that result until next September.
Ohio will face an East Carolina team that went 9-3 in the regular season. The Pirates beat a good North Carolina team by 24 and lost by only five against Virginia Tech. They also beat North Carolina State by 14 points. However, they lost their season finale to Marshall in a winner-take-all game for the Conference USA Eastern Division title, 59-28. This should (emphasis on SHOULD) be a high-scoring affair.
After sending a huge crowd and a fleet of fan buses to Detroit for the MAC Championship Game, the Bowling Green Falcons are rewarded with a return trip to Ford Field for what could be the final Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. The MAC champions, now 10-3, do not know their opponent at this time. The Big Ten has a primary agreement for this bowl, but they do not have enough bowl teams to fill it. That means the spot is open to other conferences.
Speculation is that the spot will ultimately go to an Atlantic Coast Conference team, possibly Pittsburgh or Syracuse. It is unlikely that we will know for certain who BGSU's opponent will be until after the announcement of the final Bowl Championship Series standings and the BCS game match-ups. That information will determine how the other teams are slotted.
The Poinsettia Bowl will feature the runner-ups from the MAC and the Mountain West Conference. The Northern Illinois Huskies are 12-1 after falling to Bowling Green on Friday in the MAC Championship Game, while the Utah State Aggies are 8-5 after dropping the Mountain West Championship Game to Fresno State on Saturday night. The Aggies only non-conference victory is over Weber State (FCS). They lost to BYU, USC and Utah. USU lost their starting quarterback, Chuckie Keeton, mid-season and is now led by freshman Darell Garretson. They had won five in a row before losing 24-17 to Fresno.
The 10-2 Ball State Cardinals get one of the MAC's primary bowl slots and will travel to Mobile for the GoDaddy.com Bowl against the Arkansas State Red Wolves of the Sun Belt Conference. Arkansas State is making their third consecutive appearance in this bowl game. They lost to Northern Illinois after the 2011 season and defeated Kent State after the 2012 season. Ball State will be making their second trip to Mobile for this bowl. The Cardinals lost to Tulsa in their previous trip, after the 2008 season. They were coached by Stan Parrish in that game, following Brady Hoke's departure for San Diego State.
Arkansas State finished 7-5 in the regular season and won four straight games before dropping their regular season finale to Western Kentucky. They were 2-3 with wins only over Arkansas-Pine Bluff (FCS) and Idaho.
We'll have more information about each of these bowls shortly and will update with Bowling Green's opponent as soon as that information becomes official.