Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Army's Bowl Bid Projections

Army Football dropped two truly egregious games this season, at Buffalo and against North Texas at home.  They lost to Buffalo on a pair of (very) makeable field goals, the first of which would have put the game away in regulation.  Against North Texas, Army played a fine game and won perhaps 85% of the total snaps but also threw seven interceptions and had seven fumbles.

We can't win like that to say the very least.

So here we are.  Army is 6-5, and they've got a team that probably ought to play in a bowl, that the national media has been following pretty closely over the course of the current season, but because the Athletic Department scheduled two FCS games, we don't have six bowl-qualifying wins.

Last year a handful of teams made it to bowls with five wins based on Academic Progress Rate (APR), or as we say in English, team grades.  Beat writer Sal Interdonato published a very good post yesterday updating Army's chances and correcting the record from CBS Sports.  CBS Sports had projected Army to play Houston (9-2) in the Military Bowl in, of all places, Navy-Marine Corps Stadium on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy.  That, however, seems extremely unlikely.

Fox Sports says Heart of Dallas Bowl: Army vs. Louisiana Tech.  This would be an excellent match-up in a decidedly Army-friendly town.  The game is December 27th at 11:00 am.  The bowl itself celebrates Dallas-area First Responders.  If Army winds up with its choice of bowls, I expect they'll choose this one.

SB*Nation says Quick Lane Bowl: Boston College vs. Army.  Not a bad match-up, but the game is on December 26th at 2:30 pm in scenic Detroit, Michigan.

ESPN's Brett McMurphy says AutoNation Cure Bowl: Army vs. South Alabama at Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida.  Game is December 17th at 7 pm.  That's another good match-up, though presumably South Alabama would have the bigger hometown crowd.

In the same article ESPN's Mark Schlabach says Birmingham Bowl: Army vs. Kentucky at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.  Game is at 2 p.m. on December 29th.  If you ask me, that sounds extremely unlikely.

Why all the confusion?

First, because there are still two weeks left to play.  For the most part, regular seasons end this weekend, often with classic rivalry games.  Conference championship games start next Saturday.  These will count for quite a bit.

As of this writing, there are seventeen teams that might become bowl eligible competing for fifteen slots.  Not all of those are going to make it.  For example, I don't give SMU great odds against Navy on Saturday, and Texas and TCU play each other.  They can't both make it, obviously.

Win or lose, Duke, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt are all ahead of Army on APR.  Army fans therefore ought to be rooting for Arizona, Wake Forest, Purdue, North Carolina, Mississippi, Navy (ugh!), La. Tech, UMass, and Arkansas State.

Go Army!

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