Bowls shouldn’t have much sway on what we think about a team nine months from now, but who are we kidding? The recency of a postseason performance can be the foundation of preseason hype.
A great bowl performance combined with something like a good recruiting class or a big transfer can take your team right to the top of media day polls, whether it deserves to overshadow your previous 12 games (or 12 years) or not.
But there are different kinds of hype trains for different kinds of bowl performances. Every bowl winner will enjoy some sort of Bowl Bump. But we need to talk about what type of bump they’re gonna get.
The extreme Bowl Bumps
These are the teams that have the wind at their back heading into the offseason. We’re going to overrate the hell out of many of them.
Texas A&M? When you rock NC State like that and have a top-five recruiting class, a high priced coach, and a void of true Alabama challengers in the SEC West, then offseason hype is sure to follow.
Florida should enjoy a similar bump after walloping Michigan. Someone’s gotta challenge Georgia in the East, right?
With Kyler Murray gone from Oklahoma, we’re gonna need a de facto Big 12 paper champion. Texas just ran the hell over Georgia, so they’ll do just fine.
Oregon returns the biggest QB name in the country for the 2020 NFL Draft. There might even be some preseason Heisman hype there.
Syracuse and Northwestern are under-the-radar names that closed strong. Cuse coach Dino Babers is a media darling, and Northwestern will pair continuity after a strong 2018 campaign. Oh, and they have a Clemson transfer in QB Hunter Johnson to start under center, so a better offense isn’t out of the question.
Both also have their share of media graduates, so they’re on the radar of many of my colleagues when preseason chatter gets going.
The more moderate Bowl Bumps
These had up-and-down or overachieving seasons, then great bowl performances. The first three teams are also entering Year 3 under their head coaches, usually the year a vision starts to shine through. It won’t be conference or division title level hype, but there’ll be some noise as contrarian picks.
Baylor showed a pulse on offense, and its bruising brand is a changeup for the rest of the Big 12.
Minnesota surprised everyone by ruining Paul Johnson’s retirement party, and this roster really does set up to step forward.
Kentucky had a really great year. But they did it with an offense that wasn’t terribly sexy. Folks will be deservedly high on the Cats, but it’s doubtful anyone outside of the Commonwealth will lose their minds over them.
The Auburn Bowl Bump
They put up 63 on Purdue. Gus Malzahn’s back calling plays. They’ll have a new quarterback. Whatever gets predicted for Auburn’s 2019, understand that the exact opposite will probably happen in the actual season.
First, I went through every preseason AP Poll ever to find the most overrated team of each season. Auburn took four of 68 years on that list, ranking behind only — take a wild guess — Notre Dame and USC.
On the underrated version, which gathers the 68 most hated-on achievers of the preseason AP Poll era, Auburn blows away the field by being the country’s most underrated team seven times in the last 60 years. Nobody else did it more than three in 68.
The teams nobody’ll know enough about to confidently Bowl Bump
Good luck projecting a Washington State team that’ll have a new quarterback ... again. Coming into the season, it looked like Mike Leach might have been on the hot seat. Then they pulled off the first 11-win season in school history.
Stanford hilariously underperformed at the one thing they’re always good at (running), despite having the August Heisman front-runner at RB.
Ohio State and LSU will have all the talent to project success, but they’re always in the preseason top 10 anyway. And, no matter how well Ryan Day coached in the beginning of the 2018 season, that’s still a coaching change. However, if media people remember how many LSU defenders were missing during the Fiesta Bowl win, the Tigers could end up with a big Bowl Bump.
The teams that won’t get a Bowl Bump, but will likely make us feel like idiots in December when we realize they should’ve
It does not matter that each of these teams failed to meet expectations this season. I’m not in any place to doubt Gary Patterson, David Cutcliffe, or the Wisconsin double digit-win machine, even after down years.
But what about the First Responder Bo—
OK, I know there wasn’t a winner, so we’ll talk about each team.
You know what Boise State’s gonna do: probably win all its home games and host the Mountain West Championship.
You know what Boston College’s gonna do: probably struggle on offense and be a solid seven-ish win outfit.
Formal preseason projection for each: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The non-power darling Bowl Bumps
Miracle seasons for some, really great ones for others, and a capper of a bowl win for each will have them each as dark horse picks to win 10 games, or at least land a big upset (hi, Army at Michigan in Week 2). Preseason projections will likely have one of these teams as the G5’s New Year’s Six entrant too.
My money’s on Troy, assuming Neal Brown is still there. He is already high on his team next year.
The Group of 5 teams that won’t get a Bowl Bump because we’re overlooking ‘em
This doesn’t mean they’ll have bad seasons. It just means that they’ll just continue to get overlooked.
The bowl winners that don’t need a Bowl Bump
See y’all for Round V next January in New Orleans.