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AAC Bowl Predictions: Week 15

Andrew and Eric predict how the postseason will shake out in the American

Central Florida v Florida Atlantic
Last time Beno Thompson and UCF played in Boca Raton, it was a rout.
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

With the college football regular season in its penultimate week, the college football season nears the postseason. It’s time to once again do some projecting on how the bowl season is going to shake out. Obviously, this continues to be a moving target, but that’s half the fun.

As mentioned in our previous predictions, we have a few challenges when it comes to bowl predictions:

1) COVID-19 has more than once thrown a monkey wrench into a number of schools’ seasons. We assume no further games are postponed or canceled as a result of COVID-19.

2) This is the first year of the new bowl contract cycle, which has many of the lower end ESPN owned games as part of a pool, where the match-ups can vary within a select group of conferences. This is definitely a new thing in college football. It was common for a third conference to have a backup tie-in to a game, but that’s not what this is. This is multiple primary conferences that will juggle bids.

3) Based on the above, we also assume that no new bowl games will be canceled. The Hawaii Bowl has already been canceled and that the AAC was one of the conferences potentially involved. Also, the Fenway Bowl won’t happen in 2020. Because of that, the Montgomery Bowl exists as a one year stand-in. Lastly, as noted below, the Armed Forces Bowl is no longer a possible destination due to a change in affiliation as a result of multiple cancellations elsewhere.

4) For 2020, having a winning record is not a prerequisite for being eligible.

Here are our takes regarding the bowl games tied to the American Athletic Conference.

UCF’s Bowl: Boca Raton Bowl

December 22 - G5 Pool (AAC, C-USA, MAC)

Andrew: UCF Knights vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

UCF has accepted a bid to the Boca Raton Bowl. I’ve been on the UCF to Boca train since we first started projections in November. It just made too much sense. When UCF accepted their bid, we learned that an ACC opponent was likely. That was before both Boston College, Pittsburgh, and Virginia decided to skip bowl season this year. I think that opens the possibility of pushing the ACC out of the game and Liberty back in. If the ACC stays in, I’m looking at Virginia Tech, which has been my ACC pick since the bowl announcement.

Eric: UCF Knights vs BYU Cougars

I thought it was going to be Pittsburgh but the Panthers announced on Friday they would not participate in a bowl game. So to me it came down to Virginia Tech, Liberty, or BYU, as all three regular seasons are over with no games next week. Does Virginia Tech want to play in a bowl game? If they do, do they want to come to Boca Raton? I think the Hokies would like to extend their current bowl streak of 27 straight bowls, but the Hokies may prefer to play closer to home at the Military Bowl in Annapolis. So that would take the ACC out of Boca. Next up is Liberty, but they are currently dealing with COVID issues. Will that be cleared by December 22nd? This opens the door for BYU to sneak in here to set up an attractive TV and Bowl game between two explosive offenses led by Quarterbacks Dillon Gabriel and Zach Wilson.

New Years Six/College Football Playoff

Andrew: Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl - Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Florida Gators

With Florida losing to LSU, this gives them two losses heading into the SEC Championship game against Alabama. The expectation is that Alabama is going to win, which would push Florida down the pecking order. Based on historical rankings with the CFP, Georgia bumps up to a NY6 selection. The NY6 spot for the Group of Five is still Cincinnati’s to lose.

Eric: Chick-Fil-a Peach Bowl - Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Florida Gators

I agree with Andrew 100%

Other Bowls

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl

December 19 - SMU vs. UTSA

Andrew: SMU Mustangs vs. UTSA Roadrunners

With UTSA signing on the dotted line this morning, both teams have now accepted a bid to the Frisco Bowl. This is one Eric and I each had as of last week when it was announced that the Armed Forces Bowl changed affiliations.

Eric: SMU Mustangs vs UTSA Roadrunners

I agree with Andrew.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

December 22 - Tulane vs. Nevada

Andrew: Tulane Green Wave vs. Nevada Wolfpack

I didn’t see this one coming. Then again, no one probably did. The AAC/Big East has never played in Boise, but this is 2020 and all bets are off.

Eric: Tulane Green Wave vs. Nevada Wolfpack

I am as dumbfunded as Andrew is for why Tulane going there.

Montgomery Bowl

December 23 - Memphis vs. FAU

Andrew: Memphis Tigers vs. Florida Atlantic Owls

Technically, despite being a substitute for the Fenway Bowl, which is an AAC vs ACC bowl, the Montgomery does not any specific tie-ins. Neither Memphis nor FAU will have to travel too far.

Eric: Memphis Tigers vs. Florida Atlantic Owls

I had Memphis dropping here as I expect the loser of the AAC Championship between Cincinnati and Tulsa to end up in Birmingham. I have FAU as the representative from the C-USA

New Mexico Bowl

December 24 - Houston vs. Hawai’i

Andrew: Houston Cougars vs. Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors

With no local bowl, the Rainbow Warriors are off to Texas.

Eric: Houston Cougars vs. Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors

Remember the New Mexico Bowl is in Frisco, Texas, and the Cougars will take on Hawaii from the Mountain West

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl

December 26 - Pool (AAC, ACC, SEC)

Andrew: No AAC team.

Unchanged from last week. This looks like it will end up being an ACC vs SEC matchup.

Eric: No AAC Team.

I agree with Andrew.

Cure Bowl

December 26 - G5 Pool (AAC, MAC, Sun Belt)

Andrew: No AAC team.

Unchanged from last week.

Eric: No AAC Team.

I can see this being a C-USA runner-up vs. Sun Belt runner-up matchup.

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

December 26 - Pool (AAC, ACC, Big XII)

Andrew: No AAC team

The AAC ran out of bowl teams, so this bowl will look elsewhere.

Eric: No AAC team

Something tells me the AAC will be replaced by a Big 12 team here, as moves behind the scenes are happening.

Military Bowl presented by Perspecta

December 28 - AAC vs ACC

Andrew: No AAC team

Navy basically played themselves out of a bowl game with their dud against Army. The Military is one of the AAC's primary bowl games, but with Navy being out, so goes the AAC. Tulane would have been better served here than in Boise.

Eric: No AAC

Navy’s loss to Army took them out of bowl consideration according to Brett McMurphy. I wonder if perhaps I do not understand why Tulane did not end up here.

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

December 31 - Big XII vs G5 Pool Pac-12 vs SEC

Andrew: No AAC team.

The bowl is now a Pac-12 vs SEC matchup.

Eric: No AAC team

It’s disappointing to lose this bowl game as Big 12 vs. AAC made a ton of sense here.

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl

January 1 - Pool (AAC, ACC, SEC)

Andrew: Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs Arkansas Razorbacks

It's really hard to tell how the SEC selections will shake out. LSU banned themselves from a bowl leaving the Birmingham with an Arkansas team that's better than their record. Tulsa, as the expected AAC runner-up, gets the benefit of a New Year’s Day bowl game of their own.

Eric: Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs Arkansas Razorbacks

I have the loser of the Cincinnati-Tulsa AAC championship game here and I am going with someone from the SEC. I agree with Andrew and go with Arkansas.