November 3, 2009

CMU looking at Pizza Pizza, GMAC or International Bowl

Central Michigan currently sits at 7-2 (5-0), and despite having three remaining games against MAC West foes Toledo, Ball State, and Northern Illinois, they have just about sealed up their fourth straight bowl appearance. With their lackluster performance in a 31-10 loss at Boston College last Saturday, the Chippewas are faced with the prospects of going to one of three possible bowl games. In this segment, ChippewaCountry looks at those three possibilities and the chances CMU participates.

Little Caesars Pizza Pizza Bowl

•Previously known as the Motor City Bowl, the Pizza Pizza Bowl has been the Chippewas home away from home the last three years. In a bowl game that is supposed to pit the MAC vs. the Big Ten, CMU has faced Middle Tennessee State, Purdue and Florida Atlantic the past three years, with their one win coming against MTSU. After accepting invitations to the home state bowl the last three years, CMU may be looking for a fresh change and pass if invited in 2009. This year, the Pizza Pizza Bowl has the second selection among MAC eligible teams.

Possible Opponents:

The Big Ten has made it an annual race to dodge this bowl game, and have made very few appearances lately despite their conference ties. With that said, 2009 appears to be an exception as Indiana (4-5), Northwestern (5-4), Minnesota (5-4) and home state programs Michigan State (4-5) and Michigan (5-4), all are faced with the possibility of gracing Ford Field on December 26th. There is no doubting the draw that Michigan State or Michigan would have, but would CMU play Michigan State after beating them 29-27 earlier this season? And of course, with Michigan, there are the ties between the two schools head coaches: Butch Jones (CMU) and Rich Rodriguez (UM), who have a close relationship that may be too strong for the two programs to play each other. Regardless, it appears the Big Ten and MAC will face each other in this bowl.

Chance CMU Goes : 15%


•Holding the first selection among MAC eligible teams in 2009 is the GMAC Bowl, held in Mobile, Alabama on January 6th. It is supposed to pit the MAC vs. the ACC, but like the Big Ten, the ACC has done an amazing job of dodging their ties. In fact, no ACC team has ever played in the GMAC Bowl. The MAC has been represented the last few years with some uninspiring performances, highlighted by 12-1 Ball State's collapse against Tulsa last year. By definition, the game is supposed to feature the ACC's #9 school, but they must have the six wins needed to be eligible. As a result of the ACC's lack of eligibility over the years, there are rumblings that they will be replaced with an association to the Sun Belt Conference. CMU appears to be the favorite for this bowl and folks in Alabama are already lamenting the Chippewas as their choice, behind the star power of quarterback Dan LeFevour.

Possible Opponents:

The ACC currently has three bowl eligible teams: Boston College (6-3), Miami (6-3) and Georgia Tech (8-1). Four teams currently have five wins: Duke (5-3), Virginia Tech (5-3), Clemson (5-3), and North Carolina (5-3). Assuming that those four schools can each win one of their remaining four games, that would give the ACC a total of seven bowl eligible teams. The wildcards in this equation are Florida State (4-4) and Wake Forest (4-5). If those two can become bowl eligible, CMU would be looking at a likely matchup with either North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest or Florida State. UNC and Duke play this Saturday, meaning one of them becomes eligible, but the rest of the ACC mess probably won't be figured out until the final week of the season. If the ACC cannot field a squad, expect a school such as Central Florida (5-3), Marshall (5-4), Southern Mississippi (5-4), Fresno State (5-3) or Middle Tennessee State (5-4) to fill in.

Chance CMU Goes : 65%

International Bowl

•With the third selection among MAC eligible teams, the International Bowl is the newest addition to the MAC's association. Depending on the opponent, the International Bowl could provide a lucrative alternative to the GMAC Bowl, mostly because of distance. Central Michigan is within driving distance to Toronto and CMU has had Canadian ties to their football program, including current Canadian Eric Fraser. It's a game that pits the Big East vs. the MAC, and unlike other BCS conference ties to the Pizza Pizza Bowl and GMAC Bowl, the Big East has participated. Founded in 2007, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Connecticut have all played in the bowl against MAC squads.

Possible Opponents:

The Big East currently has five of its eight members bowl eligible, and an fourth straight appearance in the International Bowl looks to be a certainty. Possible opponents include West Virginia (6-2), South Florida (6-2), Rutgers (6-2) and Connecticut (4-4). A West Virginia/CMU match-up would have quite the gleam to it after WVU courted CMU head coach and former WVU assistant Butch Jones a few years ago during their head coaching search. The subsequent ties between the two programs and personnel would make for a compelling match-up and battle of similar offenses.

Chance CMU Goes : 20%

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