Negotiations would make Western Michigan eligible for more big bowls if not in Cotton

If Western Michigan isn't selected for the automatic berth in the Cotton Bowl, negotiations are ongoing that would make the Broncos available to potentially half of the 34 remaining bowls below the New Year's Six level.

An undefeated Western Michigan is viewed as such a good story with hot coach P.J. Fleck that it could possibly be placed in a bowl beyond the Mid-American Conference's seven bowl partners.

The possibilities include 12 bowls owned and operated by ESPN Events. Two of those bowls -- Bahamas and Famous Idaho Potato -- are already MAC partners. The Bahamas Bowl has already agreed to terms with Eastern Michigan and Old Dominion.

The ESPN-run bowl possibilities for Western Michigan include the Armed Forces, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Camellia, Celebration, Hawaii, Heart of Dallas, Las Vegas, New Mexico and St. Petersburg bowls.

A source told CBS Sports that talks are ongoing regarding that wide array of bowls to arrange the best matchup and time slot for the Broncos if they end the season undefeated.

There is concern within the MAC that an undefeated Western Michigan (at 13-0 after Friday) will be beaten out by a would-be 11-2 Navy for the Cotton Bowl berth, which automatically goes to the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion.

"We continue to believe Western Michigan controls their destiny," MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said.

The Broncos (currently 12-0) are the highest-ranked Group of Five team. Their advantage over Navy, the next highest-ranked such team, shrank in Tuesday's playoff rankings.

Western Michigan has to beat Ohio on Friday in the MAC championship to remain eligible for the Cotton, the only New Year's Six bowl open this year to the Group of Five champion. The same applies to Navy, which plays Temple for the AAC championship.

The MAC has seven potential bowl partners (Famous Idaho Potato, Dollar General, Miami Beach, Bahamas, Camellia, Quick Lane, Poinsettia.) ESPN Events has first selection of bowl-eligible MAC teams. Dollar General in Mobile, Alabama, has second selection. Miami Beach has the fifth selection. The MAC has six bowl eligible teams at the moment.

If WMU wins Friday, the playoff committee could award the Broncos that automatic berth Sunday on selection day. If Western Michigan loses to Ohio and Navy beats Temple, the CFP will most likely wait until after the Army-Navy game on Dec. 10.

The New Year's Six lineup then would not be finalized until after that game. The Cotton would be filled depending on the result of the final game of the college football season.

Correction: An earlier version of this story noted that WMU was playing Ohio on Saturday, not Friday.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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