Bowlin' in 2010?

The R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Bowl, and the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl remain possibilities for Middle Tennessee's football team should it reach bowl eligibility with a win over first place Florida International in Miami on Saturday.

With three Big Ten teams in the top eight of the BCS standings and only eight bowl eligible teams for eight bowls, it's extremely likely that two of those three teams are bound for BCS bowls leaving an opening in one of its other contracted games. With only six more teams available for seven openings, the situation in the Big Ten will trigger the Sun Belt's contingency with the Pizza Bowl in Detroit should Middle Tennessee become the third Sun Belt team to reach bowl eligibility.

Although the New Orleans Bowl gets the first selection of Sun Belt teams, it's expected that officials will keep their options open to ensure the best possible matchup similar to the 2009 campaign that saw Middle Tennessee selected for New Orleans and Troy getting the nod to go to Mobile for the Bowl. It's also likely that bowl officials will take Middle Tennessee's recent history of ticket sales -- including last year's New Orleans Bowl -- into consideration as they make their selection.

According to New Orleans Bowl Executive Director, Billy Ferrante, the Bowl Committee is currently evaluating the current bowl eligible teams (FIU and Troy).

"If a third becomes bowl eligible we will consider them," says Ferrante in statement, which leaves the door open for Middle Tennessee to be selected for the New Orleans Bowl should it defeat FIU this weekend. The New Orleans Bowl could have extended an invitation to FIU on Sunday after it clinched at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference Championship, but instead has elected to await the outcome of Middle Tennessee's game with the Panthers.

New Orleans Bowl officials also stated there is no negotiating between Sun Belt members for one to outbid the other. The number of tickets allotted for the Sun Belt representative is a fixed number according to Ferrante.

Middle Tennessee's bowl chances looked bleak just a few weeks ago after a disappointing loss at home against North Texas leaving the Blue Raiders with a 3-6 record. Those chances seemed even worse as Western Kentucky looked poised to put the Blue Raiders down by three scores late in the second half of their game in Bowling Green two weeks ago before Rod Isaac picked up a Western Kentucky fumble in the end zone and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. The play may have single handedly changed the fortunes of the Middle Tennessee football team mired with the nations' worst turnover margin.

The Blue Raiders pounded Florida Atlantic this past weekend 38-14 with a plus two in the turnover margin to get to a 5-6 record while also providing itself with a chance to make a bowl game for the second consecutive year and third time in head coach Rick Stockstill's five year stint in Murfreesboro.

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