Column: breaking down the UNT bowl scenarios

Column: breaking down the UNT bowl scenarios

Column: breaking down the UNT bowl scenarios
December 03
12:02 2013

Tyler Owens / Managing Editor

With Saturday’s 42-10 rout of the University of Tulsa, the Mean Green football team wrapped up its regular season with an 8-4 record, making it bowl eligible for the first time since 2004.

Now, the only thing standing in the way of UNT finding out where it will be playing its bowl game is the Conference USA championship this Saturday when Rice University (9-3, 7-1) hosts Marshall University (9-3, 7-1).

C-USA teams receive automatic bids to six bowl games, but there are seven bowl-eligible teams in the conference. Bowl eligibility is achieved by having six regular season wins.

Graphic by Nicole Arnold / Visuals Editor

Graphic by Nicole Arnold / Visuals Editor.

The University of Texas-San Antonio (7-5, 6-2) tied UNT for second place in the West Division, but is ineligible for a bowl game until 2014 because it just recently became a Football Bowl Subdivision program. UTSA technically could have made a bowl game, but only if the FBS did not have enough teams available for the 35 bowls.

Graphic by Nicole Arnold / Visuals Editor

Graphic by Nicole Arnold / Visuals Editor.

Here is a breakdown of UNT’s chances for each bowl game:

Updated 6:45 p.m. Dec. 7: Rice defeated Marshall 41-24 on Saturday in the C-USA championship, and the Liberty Bowl announced via Twitter that Rice will play in the game on the last day of 2013. The announcement all but guarantees the Mean Green’s spot in the Heart of Dallas Bowl or possibly the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.

Liberty Bowl

Updated 8 p.m. Dec. 4: According to a post on the Denton Record Chronicle’s Mean Green Sports Blog, Heart of Dallas Bowl executive director Brant Ringler and Hawaii Bowl director of media information Derek Inouchi said UNT is being considered for both games. In the article Ringler also said a C-USA team could be considered for the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth. The bowl is supposed to feature a Mountain West Conference team against either a C-USA team or Navy, with preference given to Navy if it is bowl eligible, which it is with a 7-4 record. Navy is already set for the Armed Forces Bowl, but there is a small chance a C-USA team could replace the MWC team.

Liberty Bowl

UNT has no chance of making this bowl game, as it features the C-USA champion and a Southeastern Conference team. This game will either feature Rice or Marshall, depending on the outcome of the C-USA championship game.

Hawaii Bowl

This game will likely feature the loser of that game.

Bowls typically select their teams based upon location, fan base and other factors, but there are not any C-USA teams geographically close to Hawaii. Rice fans would probably travel better to the state than UNT or other public universities in the conference.

Despite this, SB Nation projects UNT to face San Jose State University (6-6, 5-3) in this game.

Heart of Dallas Bowl

Chances are UNT will be gearing up for this bowl game after the bowls are announced on Sunday.

Ever since the team beat Rice on Halloween, the Mean Green nation has been counting on UNT playing in Dallas on Jan. 1 against a Big Ten Conference team.

Theoretically, with Denton being such a short drive away, UNT could have home- field advantage with many fans coming for the game. This is really the only bowl game that college students on a budget would be ready and willing to travel to cheer on the team.

UNT fans hoping for a Heart of Dallas Bowl bid should root for Rice to come out on top in the C-USA championship game and head to the Liberty Bowl. Rice is the only other bowl-eligible C-USA team that would travel well for the game in Dallas.

The downside to this game is that it is on ESPNU, a channel that is not included in many basic cable television packages, rather than ESPN.

Two ESPN analysts, Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards, project UNT in this game but did not reach a consensus on the opponent. A Big Ten team might not actually make the bowl game because the conference has eight bowl options and only seven teams are eligible.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl

Around the beginning of the season, the buzz was that UNT could be heading to this bowl game, but UNT’s chances are just as good for the Hawaii or Military Bowl. C-USA is supposed to face an American Athletic Conference team, but it is likely the opponent will come from somewhere else because only four AAC teams are bowl eligible.

Middle Tennessee State University (8-4, 6-2) and Florida Atlantic University (6-6, 4-4) make more sense to be selected for this game due to their proximity, but with the worst record, FAU is likely to be the seventh team that doesn’t receive a bowl bid.

Military Bowl

CBS’s Bowl Championship Series expert Jerry Palm projects UNT facing the University of Maryland (7-5, 3-5) in the Military Bowl, but it would make a lot more sense for the bowl to select a team with regional ties like East Carolina University (9-3, 6-2), MTSU or Marshall if it doesn’t win the title.

Updated 6:20 p.m. Dec. 3: According to a Washington Post article, Military Bowl executive director Steve Beck said the Mean Green will not be selected for the Military Bowl. In the article he said he is leaning toward choosing East Carolina, especially if Marshall wins the title game.

New Orleans Bowl

Tulane University (7-5, 5-3) is an obvious choice for the New Orleans Bowl. The Sun Belt Conference champion is guaranteed for this game, and Tulane vs. the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (8-3, 5-1) should be a dream matchup for New Orleans.

The bowl game matchups will be announced on the Bowl Selection Show 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 on ESPN.

Updated 6 p.m. Dec. 3: This afternoon the New Orleans Bowl announced that Tulane had indeed accepted an invitation to face ULL in the game on Dec. 21. The bowl will be played in the Superdome, where Tulane played all its home games this season.

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