Air Force ended its regular season with a 45-21 win at Colorado State, giving the Falcons a 7-5 record and a fifth-straight season of bowl eligibility.
Which bowl? There’s at least three possibilities, and fans shouldn’t plan on booking any plane tickets until this weekend’s action wraps up. Frank Schwab of the Colorado Springs Gazette lays out a few of the scenarios here, with some words from the key players. Here are three key points for the Air Force faithful and armchair bowl projectors to consider.
1. Finish vs. value. The Mountain West Conference has agreements with four bowls — the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas (Dec. 22), the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 21), the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl (Dec. 26, in Shreveport, La.), and the Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 17).
We’ll pause here for a moment for readers to get their cars fixed, open a checking account, buy some vitamins and try on a nice pair of sweatpants.
Back? OK — the bowls select MWC teams in the above order, but don’t have to choose based on overall record or conference standings. Air Force will finish fifth in the league this year, but could be a more attractive pick for the Poinsettia than Wyoming, for example, based on the school’s national profile, the potential for more ticket sales, and other factors.
2. The BCS question. Mountain West champ TCU ranks 18th in the next-to-last Bowl Championship Series standings. If the Horned Frogs move up two places and the Houston Cougars fall in the Conference USA title game this weekend, TCU would earn an automatic BCS bid. (Head here for the particulars. Bring a slide rule and some aspirin.) With Baylor (No. 17) and Wisconsin (No. 15) both in action this weekend, such a jump is possible — and would remove TCU from the MWC-related bowl picture. That slides everyone else up a notch.
3. Military Bowl bound? As covered here previously, the bowl game set for Dec. 28 at RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital is without a service academy participant because Navy won’t be bowl-eligible. Schwab’s article brings up the natural fit, and if TCU doesn’t make a BCS bowl, there would be five MWC teams for just four MWC bowl spots, freeing one school up for an at-large bid. The simple, logical solution puts Air Force in D.C. next month, so knowing what we know about the convoluted bowl system, Sgt. Stripes can expect a classic N.C. State-Iowa State showdown. Or worse.