CINCINNATI - When it comes to bowl matchups and the Cincinnati Bearcats, does ESPN know something no one else does?
A new possible bowl matchup for 10-2 UC emerged in predictions this week.
ESPN's Kyle Bonagura has the Bearcats playing 7-5 Miami (Florida) in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl Dec. 27 in Shreveport, Louisiana. The 1:30 p.m. game will be televised by ESPN.
With the bid announcements due Sunday, Yahoo Sports, the Sporting News and SBNation have UC playing 7-5 Boston College in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland, at noon on New Year's Eve.
Athlon Sports predicts UC vs. 7-5 Georgia Tech in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, Florida, at 8 p.m. on Dec. 20. CBS's Jerry Palm and 247 Sports have UC in the Gasparilla Bowl vs. 6-5 Southern Miss.
The Orlando Sentinel has UC vs. 5-6 Virginia Tech in the Birmingham Bowl, presuming the Hokies beat Marshall on Saturday to get six wins to qualify for a bowl. That game is at noon on Dec. 22.
ESPN's Mitch Sherman predicts UC vs. 9-2 Appalachian State in the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando, Florida, at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 15. Appalachian State plays Louisiana-Lafayette in the Sun Belt Conference championship Saturday.
Bowl pairings will be announced Sunday after the four playoff teams have been selected.
As for Ohio State, Kentucky and Miami (Ohio):
All but one of those experts predict 11-1 Ohio State will lose the fourth playoff spot to 11-1 Oklahoma and end up in the Rose Bowl vs. 9-3 Washington on New Year's Day. Georgia was No. 4 in this week's College Football Playoff rankings announced Tuesday, followed by Oklahoma and Ohio State.
The thinking is No. 1 Alabama (12-0) will beat Georgia (11-1) in the SEC Championship Saturday and knock the Bulldogs out of the playoff, and Oklahoma will beat Texas (9-3) in the Big 12 Championship. If Oklahoma loses, though, Ohio State can get in if it beats Northwestern (8-4) for the Big Ten title.
Kentucky (9-3) is a popular choice to play in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 against Penn State (9-3) or Northwestern (8-4).
And the 6-6 Miami Redhawks? It looks like they're staying home because there are more bowl eligible teams (82 if Virginia Tech wins Saturday) than bowl slots (78), according to Yahoo! Sports. The Mid-American Conference has five bowl spots and seven bowl-eligible teams, so Miami and Eastern Michigan (7-5) could get left out, Yahoo! Sports says.
However, ESPN's Bonagura slots Miami vs. Florida International in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl in Nassau at 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 21.