Come with me to a magical land.
In this magical land, the 2014 Syracuse Orange football team had nary a major injury all season long. It also clicked on offense, at least slightly more than what actually happened in our reality. The Maryland Terrapins came to the Dome and were sent packing back to the Big Ten with a 27-26 loss. The 4-6 Orange knocked the Pittsburgh Panthers out of bowl contention in their with a hearty 23-20 victory and then bested the Boston College Eagles a week later 28-21 to finish the season bowl eligible.
Given what we learned yesterday, what bowl game would that magical Syracuse football team be preparing for right now.
Let's keep in mind that due to our little experiment, this means the Orange finished 6-6 (3-5), which is the same record in this scenario as BC, Miami and Virginia Tech.
We know that once you get past the top teams, the bowls don't care too much for standings, head-to-head wins and things like that. They care about money, attendance and national prominence. So, we can make some hard assumptions.
- The Russell Athletic Bowl, Music City Bowl, Belk Bowl and Sun Bowl are all out of the running.
- The Pinstripe Bowl, Military Bowl, Independence Bowl, Quick Lane Bowl and Bitcoin Bowl are all in play.
- The Armed Forces Bowl has to be included as well since they ended up picking an ACC squad (Pitt).
Certainly, the Pinstripe Bowl is always a high consideration. It's been a few years since the All-Time Leader in Pinstripe Bowl Victories has been there. The problem, I think, would have been the fact that the Pinstripe wanted Penn State. Syracuse vs. Penn State is a little stale. Even if we were eligible, I could have seen the bowl passing us by for BC. But, it's very possible.
The Independence Bowl feels unlikely. They would have gone with the southernmost squad, and they did with Miami.
The Military Bowl probably would have taken Virginia Tech over us, just makes logical sense.
The Quick Lane Bowl seems like a distinct possibility. My guess is that North Carolina's brand and ability to draw fans would have trumped us, but our Northern roots and the chance to see a wonky Syracuse vs. Rutgers showdown in Detroit might have made bowl organizers dream of "owning" New York City for a night. It's possible.
The Bitcoin Bowl went with NC State and I don't think that would have changed for us. Just makes regional & travel sense.
The Armed Forces Bowl appears to have been a distinct possibility. In this scenario, everything's basically the same except you swap in Syracuse for Pitt. And Syracuse is no more attractive to bowls than Pitt is, so, it stands to reason that the Armed Forces Bowl would have been our destination, with a showdown against Houston on the horizon.
Of course, it's all guessing and who the hell knows. But, it was a bummer to be left out of the bowl announcement process for the first time in a few years. Let's not do this again next year. Cool? Cool.