There have been several questions recently about Pitt’s bowl hopes.
As there should be.
Pitt ended its regular season 2-4, landing on the soft, 4-2 cushion it built over the first half of the season. Plus, there are 78 bowl-eligible schools for 70 slots.
OK. The math looks bad, but if you’re counting on that Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26 in Detroit — and I know you are — you need not fret.
Despite its problems, Pitt’s victories against Duke (10-2 and headed to the ACC championship game) and Notre Dame (8-4) will carry some weight. Although it’s true Pitt fans typically don’t travel well to bowl games (and the day after Christmas in Detroit doesn’t sound like a party), several other teams have similar travel problems.
Of those 78 teams with the requisite six victories, five are from the Sun Belt and seven from the MAC, all hoping to get a bid. (Sun Belt champion Louisiana-Lafayette is already making plans for the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 21.). If it comes down to Pitt, Troy, Texas State, Louisiana-Monroe and Central Michigan, my money’s on Pitt.
I can say representatives from the AdvoCare V100 Bowl (Shreveport, La., Dec. 31) were sniffing around Pitt before the loss to Miami, but that’s an ACC bowl (No. 7 pick). The ACC leads the nation with 11 bowl-eligible teams, but nine are ahead of Pitt. The bowl holding the eighth ACC choice (Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Md.) might be a landing spot for Maryland, at least logistically.
Army (3-8) is leaving a Poinsettia Bowl berth on the table, but that game is in San Diego on Dec. 26. Too far from Pittsburgh? Perhaps.
Has anyone mentioned the Pinstripe Bowl? The game (Dec. 28 in Yankee Stadium) is ticketed for the seventh Big 12 team, but that conference only has six bowl-eligible teams. Thank you, WVU.
That’s also the case in Detroit where the pizza guys would have preferred the eighth Big Ten team, but there are only seven. Thank you, Penn State.
And, because you asked, a fourth return trip to the BBVA Compass Bowl (Jan. 4 in Birmingham, Ala.) isn’t theoretically impossible. Yeah, really. That bowl, which gets a new sponsor in 2015, is counting on the fifth team from the American Athletic Conference (you remember it as the Big East), but the AAC has only four. The AAC’s Rutgers (5-6) can gain bowl eligibility with a victory Saturday against visiting South Florida. Wouldn’t that be a nice parting gift for Rutgers, which is leaving for the Big Ten next year? Thank you, Rutgers (in advance).
Of course, closed-door meetings, secret telephone conversations and athletic directors and coaches calling in favors can and will change several bowl scenarios.
Note to Steve Pederson: If you need anyone to take notes at those meetings, I’m available.