Independence Bowl Projections For 2016
Much like the way fans gravitate towards the Green Bay Packers, the Independence Bowl is finding a special place with some as a "small market" bowl game.
With the explosion of college football bowl games, it seems like every major metro area hosts one now. Which is part of what sets the Indy Bowl apart. Shreveport is a medium market in nearly every way, so to compete in a 2016-Bowl-World where New York City, Dallas, Orlando, Detroit, Miami, and Nashville all host bowls is impressive. The Indy Bowl should be not just a Shreveport treasure, but a national treasure.
But like most things in life, it's "what have you done for me lately?". The last few years have hosted some big names in college football, and has had some instant classic games (last year's Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech comes to mind), but they haven't had the kind of punch that gets the local community fired up.
There was a bucketful of rumors last year that LSU could have played in the game, if the Indy Bowl would have been able to offer the same payout that the Texas Bowl had. If that would have come through, the Indy Bowl would have had that "kick" again locally. The last time a Louisiana-based team played in the Indy Bowl was 2012 when UL-Monroe lost to Ohio. Before that it was Louisiana Tech in 2008, and the last time LSU played in the game was 1997 (they also played here in 1995).
ANYWAY...let's talk 2016.
The SEC tie-in is nice for the Independence Bowl, when it works, but being the last bowl on the SEC list doesn't always payoff. Last year's game was great, but didn't involved any SEC teams. In fact, since the agreement with the SEC came into place in 2012, there has only been one SEC team that made the game (South Carolina in 2014).
But this season, the SEC will be able to provide a team to Shreveport's Bowl game. Unfortunately, it's not going to be a team a lot of fans will be excited about. It appears the Vanderbilt Commodores will be making their way south for the game. The team became bowl eligible with and exciting win against rival Tennessee this weekend.
But who will they play?
We know it will be an ACC team, based on the conference tie-ins, but the ACC standing are stacked with tied records. So navigating which of the 6-6 teams will come to town is tough. There are "experts" who predict Wake Forrest or NC State will make the trip. My gut says NC State, but it's not up to me.
Based on what's provided, the most likely scenario will see a team from Nashville take on a team from the East Coast...neither are really going to excite the Shreveport audience, but perhaps a rejuvenated Vanderbilt fan-base will travel well, and there are more closeted NC State fans in Louisiana than I ever thought.
So make it our official projection for the 2016 Independence Bowl: Vanderbilt vs. NC State
But really, why listen to us? We have access to the guys who would KNOW exactly what's up. Catch the OFFICIAL show of the Independence Bowl, I-Bowl Weekly, every Wednesday on 1130 The Tiger. Which is the same place you'll be able to catch the Independence Bowl broadcast! As 1130 The Tiger continues it's long and proud history of being Shreveport's home for the Independence Bowl.