Like most of his fellow bowl executive, Steve Beck sees plenty of scenarios but not a lot of certainty.
The Military Bowl executive director’s job is made a bit more difficult this season because Navy, which had a contractual tie-in with the Dec. 28 game at RFK Stadium, did not become bowl eligible. That leaves an open slot for the fourth-year game, which will also receive the No. 8 pick from the ACC.
“We’re out there in conversations with all the players right now,” Beck said. “We’re just trying to work through it.”
The most intriguing —- and perhaps the best natural fit, given the bowl’s name —- possibility to fill the at-large spot would be with Air Force (7-5), which won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the second straight year and became bowl-eligible with Saturday’s victory over Colorado State.
The Falcons are one of five Mountain West teams available to fill the conference’s four bowl tie-ins.
“Air Force would be tremendous for the Military Bowl if there’s a way to make that happen, but that’s outside of my control,” Beck said. “We’d love to have them if we could.”
Other leagues will also have surplus teams. The Big Ten has 10 bowl-eligible programs, meaning Illinois, Northwestern or Purdue could be available to the Military Bowl. If the Big 12 only manages one BCS berth, one of its teams (perhaps Iowa State) could need a postseason home.
There’s also the Mid-American Conference, which is the home of 8-4 Temple. The Owls played in the D.C. bowl game two years ago and again would be a logical regional option.
As for the other team, the ACC’s one-loss rule prevents a bowl from selecting a team with more than one extra conference loss than any available team. With six conference teams owning at least five league wins, only N.C. State (7-5, 4-4) and North Carolina (7-5, 3-5) can fall to the league’s last spot.
N.C. State appears headed for the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, a game where the Wolfpack has not played since 2005. That would leave the Tar Heels, who played in Charlotte in 2008 and 2009 and are in line for their fourth straight postseason appearance.
—- Patrick Stevens