Way Too Early Predictions for the 2018 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
We are nearly three months away from the Walk-On's Independence Bowl, which is probably too early to look at potential match ups for the game, but people are already asking, so we're doing it.
This year's Walk-On's Independence Bowl will be on Thursday, December 27th at 12:30pm, and will hopefully feature a full on match up between the SEC and ACC. But could end up with teams from other conferences as well. Which honestly, doesn't mean a bad game.
Over the last 5 Indy Bowls, 2 have featured SEC vs ACC games. Those were the 2014 game between South Carolina and Miami (FL) and the 2016 game between NC State and Vanderbilt in 2016. Over that same time period, teams from the American Athletic Conference (Tulsa in 2015), Pac-12 Conference (Arizona in 2013), and Conference USA (Southern Miss in 2017) have all appeared in the game.
Now we are going into Week 6 of the NCAA Football season, which means teams will start becoming "Bowl Eligible" as of this week. But there are so many teams with only 2 or 3 wins now, who will get to 6 by the end of the year, that we can't have a true picture yet. There are also a ton of other circumstances that will play into the Indy Bowl that we can't see yet, like the College Football Playoff, but let's not let that stop us.
Looking at the current state of the SEC, there are 9 teams with records between 5-0 and 3-2, which means they're all likely to be able to get into a bowl game. Ole Miss might get to 6 wins, but they will not be able to get into a post-season game due to punishments. Now here comes the "but".
The Indy Bowl is 10th in the order of SEC Bowl games. Which means that more than 10 SEC teams (including Ole Miss) would have to get 6 wins, AND the teams at the top will have to miss the College Football Playoff, to get an SEC team into the Indy Bowl this year. With Alabama, Georgia, and LSU floating around the College Football Playoff projection, and Ole Miss having issues, this will just be a tough year for that SEC spot to get filled for Shreveport.
But on the ACC side, there's a chance.
There are 10 teams in the ACC with records between 5-0 and 3-2, meaning they all could possibly make 6 wins. The Indy Bowl also balls at 8th on the ACC list, so you really only need 8 of those teams to make it, without any of them making the playoffs. Clemson could be the only one there with a chance. Meaning Boston College, Syracuse, Miami (FL), Virginia Tech, Virginia, Duke, Florida State, and Wake Forest could all be in play.
Based on current ACC records, and remaining schedule, I would project Virginia Tech, Duke, or Virginia as possible Indy Bowl teams.
Which means we might be looking at a backup conference tie in.
The two backup conferences are the American Athletic and Conference USA. There are backups to the backups too, but I don't want to go that deep this far out.
Now last year, a Conference USA team got the fill in call, so don't be shocked if the American Athletic Conference gets the call this year. So who in that conference would be looking for a bowl bid?
There are 5 teams with at least three wins right now, meaning they could all become eligible to play in a bowl. There are 5 teams with 2 wins right now, meaning a couple of them could make it too.
Unlike the SEC or ACC, the American doesn't have an order for their bowl agreements. Their leaders will get together as bids go out, and sort it from there. So it does us no good to project their finishing order, and how it could play into the Indy Bowl.
So lets just say Memphis, Houston, and University of Central Florida are all in play (Navy, SMU, and Temple all are in a weird spot and could play in). Geographically, Houston and Memphis would make the most sense.
So, here's the "Way Too Early" projection:
Duke vs. Memphis in the 2018 Walk-On's Independence Bowl
If this actually comes true, I want my own suite at the game, and my face on the 50-yard-line.