But like I've said many times before, it is very likely the Chippewas are going to a bowl. For one thing, every prognostication I've seen around the major media outlets has at least four MAC teams going, some even have five (with Northern Illinois at 6-6). Enough at-large bids are opening up to accept that fourth team, which at worst would have an 8-4 record. (Buffalo will automatically go by virtue of being the only bowl-eligible team in the MAC East).
The most likely scenario, according to these outlets, is CMU and East Carolina in the GMAC Bowl on Jan. 6, even with Western Michigan at a better overall record. The biggest disadvantage to playing in this game, obviously, is the fan following - Mobile, Ala., is a tad further away than Detroit. You can expect many Central fans from Georgia and Florida (pipeline states) to show up, but not quite the crowd we saw at the Motor City Bowl last year.
The next game to watch, obviously, is Buffalo and Ball State in the MAC Championship on Friday. If Buffalo wins, we could see the Bulls in the Motor City Bowl instead of the Cardinals, but I still think they want the International Bowl regardless because of its proximity. Both teams have huge draws to those bowls for that reason, especially since Buffalo is going bowling for the first time since it joined the MAC and Ball State wants fans to attend the final game of its perfect season.
That leaves CMU and WMU for the GMAC, and both have strong cases. CMU may win out by virtue of head-to-head, but WMU's 9-3 record has a say, too. We'll see, I suppose - that's the point of the waiting game.