Games Independence Bowl Fans Should Watch Tomorrow
The final week of College Football's "Bowl Season" is here. There isn't a large menu of games this weekend, but there are some really big matchups. A lot of Conference Championship games will play into the College Football Playoff picture, but other games will have post-season implications as well.
For football fans in the Ark-La-Tex, we'll be paying attention to games that will have an impact on the Walk-On's Independence Bowl.
Since Walk-On's came into the Indy Bowl picture, there's been a lot of added interest and excitement. Couple that with the extras the Indy Bowl has been adding (like a big, free concert with the Toadies in Downtown Shreveport), and you've got a lot of people who might have been ignoring the bowl for a few years, back into the game.
So let's try to catch everyone up on what is normally a pretty easy game to predict the participants of.
But this year, because there are a lot of moving parts, it can be hard to keep up with who's in-play for an Independence Bowl bid. With two main Conference partnerships, and two secondary partnerships, it can lead to a lot of weird scenarios...like this year.
The main agreements with the Walk-On's Independence Bowl are with the SEC and ACC. However this year the SEC will not be able to supply a team due to the number of bowl eligible teams they have vs. the number of bowl agreements on paper. The ACC will be able to provide a team, but at this point, it's tough to say who that will be. We'll get to that in a second.
The secondary agreements for the Walk-On's Independence Bowl are with Conference USA and the American Athletic Conference. Back in 2015, the last time a main conference couldn't supply a team, the Indy Bowl got Tulsa from the American Athletic, so it would only be fair if Conference USA got the nod this year. Which puts A BUNCH of teams into play as well.
So with so many ACC and Conference USA teams up in the air, who should we be looking at?
Let's start with the ACC, the team on everyone's mind is Florida State, but there's a lot of uncertainty there.
First of all, they need to win against ULM tomorrow just to become bowl eligible. So they're not even a post-season lock yet.
But then you have to look at how many other teams the ACC will be sending to bowls. Including the Playoffs, there are going to be 10 teams from the ACC playing in the post-season if FSU gets that 6th win. So the seeding will be important, which will be further complicated with all of the 6-6 teams being 3-5 in-conference. Meaning there's some negotiating to be had. But first things first, they have to beat ULM (sorry Warhawks fans).
Now we have to look at the other half of the mix, Conference USA. Which has a similar problem to the ACC...too many teams.
But with Conference USA, things get sketchy, because instead of seeding out their bowl placements based on record, they allow teams to pick-and-choose where they want to go. So this one might take more conversation than the bottom-end of the ACC. One of the top teams in Conference USA that could look to Shreveport is North Texas.
The Mean Green will play this weekend in the Conference USA Championship game against Florida Atlantic University. If the Mean Green beat FAU, they could have first pick at a game, and choose Shreveport due to proximity. But at the same time, the Armed Forces Bowl will be just down the road from them in Fort Worth, and the New Orleans Bowl is also available.
Just keep North Texas in mind when you're thinking about the Indy Bowl.
Florida Atlantic University
As we stay in Conference USA, we need to look at the other side of the Conference USA Championship game...
First off, two words: Lane Kiffin.
Yup, that guy. Lane Kiffin is the head coach at Florida Atlantic (for now) and would be very entertaining for the Indy Bowl. The guy will bring attention, and coverage from all over the college football world. Mostly because he might not be the FAU coach long after their bowl game.
Kiffin might be hired at another, bigger, head coaching gig pretty quickly. But based on his Twitter feed, he might be enjoying not having anyone more powerful than he is at Florida Atlantic.
Duke, Wake Forest, Virgina, and Boston College
We have to jump back to the ACC, because all of these teams are still in-play, but they won't be playing tomorrow, so there's nothing they can do to increase, or hurt their chances. These teams will be all about Florida State, and negotiation.
OK, let's get interesting. Could the Bulldogs come to Shreveport, yes they could, but it will take a lot.
There are 10 bowl eligible teams in Conference USA too, and they have 7 bowl agreements, including the Indy Bowl. Some of the teams might be able to snag "at large" bids to other games, but there will be more teams eligible for bowl games across college football than there are bowl games. Let that sink in...with the explosion of bowl games, there's still not going to be enough slots for the amount of 6-win teams out there.
But, with the set-up of bowl game agreements that Conference USA has, it might make sense for Louisiana Tech to come to the Indy Bowl. Florida Atlantic and Florida International have the Gasparilla Bowl and Boca Raton Bowl both in-state. North Texas and UTSA could look to stay close to home with the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth. Marshall, Middle Tennessee, and Western Kentucky could also look to the Florida games if the other teams pass on them. Plus UAB has already accepted an invite to the Bahamas Bowl.
But let's not ignore that Louisiana Tech might prefer the New Orleans Bowl over the Indy Bowl, or that Southern Mississippi might want the Indy Bowl and have the first shot at it. This isn't a slam dunk, but it is a possibility.
What To Watch
So it comes down to this, what games tomorrow will play into the Independence Bowl Selection?
Here they are, ranked in order of interest:
- Florida State vs. UL-Monroe (FSU needs to win for bowl eligibility)
- North Texas vs. Florida Atlantic - Conference USA Championship (either could choose the Indy Bowl bid)
- Clemson vs. Miami - ACC Championship (If FSU wins, Clemson would likely need to win to help facilitate an FSU Indy Bowl bid)
It all seems so easy, right?