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Non-BCS and Independents bowl predictions

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson
Things are starting to fall into place, though there are a lot of conferences with bowl games up for grabs. The best thing going for the non-BCS is that it will have all the 7-5 at-large teams, guaranteeing bowls for those schools. Bowl games for the 6-6 teams get a little dicey and could be up in the air until the very end.

Here's a look at how the non-BCS bowls are shaping up:

MOUNTAIN WEST Utah: The Utes completed a perfect season by beating BYU on Saturday and have assured themselves a BCS bowl. Now it's a matter of which BCS bowl. The word on the street is that the Utes won't fall to the Orange, leaving the Fiesta and Sugar as possibilities.
Possibilities: Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl.
Prediction: Sugar Bowl.

BYU: The fans of BYU are probably going to get the Cougars the best Mountain West bowl possible. Although TCU would technically finish higher than the Cougars, the bowls are not bound by the standings and the Las Vegas Bowl needs to fill seats.
Possibilities: Las Vegas Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Poinsettia Bowl, Armed Forces Bowl.
Prediction: Las Vegas Bowl.

TCU: It's not that TCU doesn't deserve the best Mountain West Bowl, it's that the Horned Frogs don't travel, which will be tough for any bowl that takes them. However, they are a more attractive draw than Air Force, which will get them out of Fort Worth.
Possibilities: Las Vegas Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Poinsettia Bowl, Armed Forces Bowl.
Prediction: Poinsettia Bowl.

Air Force: The Falcons needed to beat TCU to improve their bowl status, but this is a fitting bowl for them. They'll have a good draw in Fort Worth, which will make the bowl happy.
Possibilities: Las Vegas Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Poinsettia Bowl, Armed Forces Bowl.
Prediction: Armed Forces Bowl.

Colorado State: The Rams win over Wyoming this weekend secured a bowl berth in coach Steve Fairchild's first season. The Rams will test their mettle against a WAC team.
Possibilities: Las Vegas Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Poinsettia Bowl, Armed Forces Bowl.
Prediction: New Mexico Bowl.

WAC
Boise State: With a Utah win last weekend, Boise State is probably out of the running for a BCS bowl, which would land the Broncos in the Humanitarian Bowl. Personally, the Poinsettia Bowl would present a better game, but the Humanitarian might not let the Broncos leave their home state.
Possibilities: Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, at-large.
Projection: Roady's Humanitarian Bowl.

Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs are going to a bowl, but which bowl remains in question. If the conference can get five 7-5 teams, the Bulldogs could go to the Independence Bowl as an at-large, but that means losing to Nevada this week.
Possibilities: New Mexico Bowl, Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, at-large
Prediction: Independence Bowl.

Fresno State: The Bulldogs have the required seven wins to be one of the WAC's top bowl teams, which guarantees them a bowl. New Mexico seems fitting since the Bulldogs were headed there last year until Boise State ended up in Hawaii.
Possibilities: New Mexico Bowl, Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, at-large
Prediction: New Mexico Bowl.

Nevada: If the Wolf Pack can beat Louisiana Tech this week, it will be 7-5 and more than likely secure the Poinsettia Bowl. If it gets dropped into a pool of 6-6 teams for an at-large bid, the Wolf Pack likely will end up in Texas.
Possibilities: New Mexico Bowl, Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, at-large.
Prediction: Poinsettia Bowl.

Hawaii: The Warriors play Washington State this weekend and should they win the game, they'll secure a spot in the Hawaii Bowl. If Hawaii loses, it will have a tough time picking up that seventh win for bowl eligibility against Cincinnati.
Possibilities: New Mexico Bowl, Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, at-large.
Prediction: Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

CONFERENCE USA

Houston: If the Cougars beat Rice on Saturday, the Conference USA West title is there's. If not, the Cougars could drop as far as third in the West standings.
Possibilities: AutoZone Liberty Bowl, St. Petersburg Bowl, R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Texas Bowl, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, GMAC Bowl.
Projection: Liberty Bowl.

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane got off the schnide last week against Tulane and should have a chance to notch 10 wins against a lame-duck Marshall team. But they'll still need Houston to lose to make the championship.
Possibilities: AutoZone Liberty Bowl, St. Petersburg Bowl, R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Texas Bowl, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, GMAC Bowl.
Projection: Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

Rice: Rice needs to beat Houston and hope for a Marshall victory over Tulsa to make the C-USA championship. That's a lot to hope for, but weirder things have happened in this conference.

Possibilities: AutoZone Liberty Bowl, St. Petersburg Bowl, R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Texas Bowl, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, GMAC Bowl.
Projection: Texas Bowl.

East Carolina: Being the winner of C-USA East and the proximity of this bowl make a trip to Mobile, Ala., ideal for the Pirates.
Possibilities: AutoZone Liberty Bowl, St. Petersburg Bowl, R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Texas Bowl, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, GMAC Bowl.
Projection: GMAC Bowl.

Still up for grabs: St. Petersburg Bowl, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Contenders: UTEP, Memphis, Southern Miss. All three have five wins.
Prediction: Memphis (R + L Carries New Orleans Bowl), Southern Miss (St. Petersburg Bowl). UTEP could get an at-large bid.

SUN BELT
The Sun Belt has just one team with seven wins (Troy) and one team that could gain seven wins (Arkansas State). The Papajohns.com Bowl, Independence Bowl, both with auxiliary tie-ins to the Sun Belt, require the Sun Belt teams to have seven wins for bowl eligibility.

Troy: The Trojans secured a piece of the Sun Belt title this past weekend, but will need to secure it with a win over Arkansas State in two weeks should the Red Wolves beat North Texas.
Possibilities: New Orleans Bowl, Papjohns.com Bowl, Independence Bowl.
Prediction: New Orleans Bowl.

Still up for grabs: Papajohns.com Bowl, Independence Bowl
Contenders: Arkansas State

INDEPENDENTS
The bowl picture looked so clear for the Independents a week ago and now Notre Dame could be in trouble. If the Irish lose to USC and the Big East gets another 7-5 team, Notre Dame would be out of a Sun Bowl bid and placed in a pool of at-large teams. Depending on the bowls available, Notre Dame could opt out of bowl season altogether.

Navy: The Midshipmen have had a bowl game locked up for a couple weeks and since they are locked into the EagleBank Bowl this season, this is a no-brainer.
Possibilities: EagleBank Bowl.
Prediction: EagleBank Bowl.

Notre Dame: The Irish could go anywhere at this point. If Rutgers beats Louisville and Notre Dame loses to USC, the Irish are out of the Sun Bowl and are basically thrown into a pool of 6-6 teams with the common folk.
Possibilities: Brut Sun Bowl, at large.
Prediction: At-large.

MAC
This is the toughest conference to pick because there are so many different scenarios. Basically, it all comes down to Tuesday's games. If Ball State wins, it will probably get the MAC's top bowl. If Northern Illinois beats Navy, it will have seven wins and grab an at-large bid. There are a ton of possibilities, so everything below is just pure speculation.

Central Michigan: I believe fortune will smile on the Chippewas and they will still claim the MAC West title and ultimately the MAC title, putting them in the MAC's best bowl.
Possibilities: Motor City Bowl, International Bowl, GMAC Bowl, at-large.
Prediction: Motor City Bowl.

Ball State: The Cardinals have 11 down and one to go. A win puts Ball State into the MAC championship and the Motor City Bowl. A loss puts them somewhere else. Don't be surprised to see, depending on Tuesday's outcome, Ball State get an at-large bid to set up an attractive matchup (I can't be more cryptic than that).
Possibilities: Motor City Bowl, International Bowl, GMAC Bowl, at-large.
Prediction: GMAC Bowl.

Western Michigan: Western Michigan is going to a bowl, but which bowl will depend on Tuesday. I honestly think the Broncos get an at-large bid regardless, and they'll the closest bowl might be Birmingham.
Possibilities: Motor City Bowl, International Bowl, GMAC Bowl, at-large.
Prediction: Papajohns.com.

Buffalo: The Bulls have sewn up the MAC East and a bowl berth to boot. Because this is the first bowl in the program's history, my gut feeling is that the conference will keep them near the school so fans can easily attend.
Possibilities: Motor City Bowl, International Bowl, GMAC Bowl, at-large.
Prediction: International Bowl.

Northern Illinois: As I said in the intro, the Huskies need to win Tuesday to secure a bowl berth. No 7-5 team will be left out of a bowl this year, but there are no guarantees for a 6-6 squad.
Possibilities: Motor City Bowl, International Bowl, GMAC Bowl, at-large.
Prediction: At-large, possibly EagleBank Bowl.