Preseason Bowl Projections
Bowl Projections (Preseason)
Phil Steele– Clemson vs. UCF
Jerry Palm– Miami vs. Central Florida
SB Nation– Florida State vs. Cincinnati
Scout.com/CollegeFootballNews.com– Virginia Tech vs. Louisville
Athlon Sports– Miami vs. Cincinnati
Sports Illustrated– North Carolina vs. Cincinnati
Mark Schlabach (ESPN)– Miami vs. Cincinnati
Brad Edwards (ESPN)– Miami vs. Cincinnati
Matt Murschel (Orlando Sentinel) – Florida State vs. Rutgers
Nine experts combined to pick nine different teams to appear in this year’s Russell Athletic Bowl in seven different matchup combinations. The most popular pick appears to be Miami vs. Cincinnati which was chosen by three different analysts. In addition UCF was also chosen by multiple outlets to appear in this year’s game.
The hometown Knights are a popular pick to make the short trip to the Florida Citrus Bowl for this year’s game. They appear in two separate projections for the Russell Athletic Bowl. Jerry Palm has UCF matching up with in-state rival Miami for the third time in history, while Phil Steele has the Knights battling Clemson. This would be the first ever trip to the Russell Athletic Bowl for the Knights and their sixth bowl game since 2005.
Of the nine teams projected into this year’s game, Miami and Florida State have the most extensive history with the Russell Athletic Bowl. Both programs have appeared in three prior games in the history of the bowl. Florida State appeared in the inaugural Blockbuster Bowl in 1990 which would go on to become the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Seminoles are 3-0 in their Russell Athletic Bowl history, with wins over Penn State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame. Miami also has a successful history in the game, going 2-1 in past appearances. The Hurricanes beat Virginia and NC State in 1996 and 1998 respectively, before falling to Wisconsin in the 2009 edition.
Cincinnati comes into this season having won two consecutive Big East championships and four of the last five. The Bearcats are a different team this year playing in the newly formed American Athletic Conference, with Tommy Tuberville taking over for Butch Jones who left for Tennessee in the offseason.
Rutgers, while only appearing in one of the projections, would be making their second consecutive trip to the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Knights dropped a closely-fought 13-10 game to Virginia Tech on an overtime field goal. Rutgers would be only the third team to make back-to-back appearances in the bowl’s history.
Three teams projected to appear in the Russell Athletic Bowl find themselves in the preseason Coaches’ Poll top 25; Clemson at No. 8, Louisville at No. 9 and Florida State at No. 12. Louisville is the consensus preseason favorite to win the American Athletic Conference. Many projections have them heading to a BCS bowl game. Clemson also appears to be a preseason favorite to make it to a BCS bowl game as six of the nine projections have them appearing in the Orange Bowl as the Atlantic Coast Conference champion.