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The Gekko Files: PAC 12 Bowl Projections (Nov 26th Edition)

Bowl slotting is starting to take shape, but there are still major questions left to answer before it is all said and done.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

You know, the College Football Playoffs sure have cheapened the regular season.  Haven't they?

Perhaps not.

With just one more week to go, there is still a whole to play for as no fewer than eight PAC teams are trying to maximize their bowl slotting.  Four of those teams are still harboring dreams of qualifying for the College Football Playoff Series or a premium at-large bid. It's looking like a pretty strong year for the PAC overall.

My updated bowl projections are below.  These are based on a projection of UCLA beating Stanford, Arizona State beating Arizona and UW beating WSU.  I'm also not forecasting either Cal or Oregon State to achieve bowl eligibility, so they are excluded from the list.

Some discussion:

  • At this point, it looks very good for two PAC teams to get invites to playoffs/premium bowls.  It isn't automatic, but those two bids create room at the bottom of the PAC 12 contracted bowls for both Stanford and Washington to be assured that they will stay on the west coast

  • It is really important that UCLA beats Stanford if you are a UW fan.  If they fail to do so, not only will UCLA get bounced to a contracted bowl, but Stanford will top UW in the pecking order of those contracted bowls.  If UW fails to beat WSU and either Cal or OSU gain eligibility, the Huskies will be facing the prospect of having to rely on at-large invites to a bowl who is having to find a substitute for its contracted slot.

  • Last season, by my count, there were five bowl games that had to invite teams outside of the contracted arrangements due to the lack of eligible candidates.  It looks like there may be a similar number this season.  However, I still expect that there will be more eligible teams that slots.  The number of eligible but uninvited teams in 2014 could reach as high as six to eight teams.

  • UW to Vegas looks like a much stronger possibility than it did a week ago.  Petersen is 3-0 in the Vegas Bowl having beat UW, Arizona State and Utah.

  • If UW goes to the Vegas Bowl, don't presume that they'll play Boise State.  While it is certainly possible, Boise's resume isn't that bad and an At-Large invite to a CFP game is still a possibility (perhaps to the Fiesta?).  Colorado State is the next best team in the MWC.  CSU has already won 10 games (including Colorado) and has only lost to Boise State this year.

  • Where USC lands will be kind of a mystery.  On one hand, with just three conference losses, they'd be a strong candidate for the Holiday Bowl.  Given the fact that I'm projecting Arizona to lose to ASU, USC (who also beat UA) will have the better position in the standings.  However, I do think that UA will get credit for staying in the P12 race longer and for beating Oregon.  Thus, I have USC falling to Foster Farms Bowl (formerly San Francisco Bowl).

  • Some people may be wondering if any PAC 12 team will likely go bowling with an interim coach at the helm.  While it is highly doubtful, don't be shocked if Todd Graham gets a long look from Florida should he end up winning the Territorial Cup.  His vagabond ways may give Florida's AD some hesitation, but his ability to build winners in conferences all over the country is now firmly established.  Florida should be seriously considering evaluating him.

Updated Bowl Projections

Rose Bowl (Playoffs) Pasadena, 1/1/15
Oregon looks like a virtual lock to make the College Football Playoffs with just Colorado and Oregon State standing between them and the P12 Championship game. Them ending up in the Rose Bowl is no lock, but it looks realistic.
Fiesta Bowl (CFB At-Large) Glendale AZ 12/31
I didn't think that UCLA would get past USC, but they are peaking at the right time. All bets are off if Stanford manages to beat the Bruins (and UCLA doesn't match well vs the Cardinal), but I think UCLA will hold on at home. If they do, they are almost certainly going to the Fiesta.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
San Antonio, 1/2/15
With Anu Solomon looking like an injury scratch, the advantage shifts to the Sun Devils in the Territorial Cup. If they win big enough, they COULD go to an CFB At-Large - but only if UCLA loses to Stanford. For now, it looks like the Alamo Bowl and maybe, just maybe, a matchup with the Oklahoma Sooners.
National University Holiday Bowl
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
San Diego, 12/27/14
An argument could be made for USC in this spot, but I think that the Wildcats will get the nod here presuming they keep the Territorial Cup close enough.
Foster Farms (SF) Bowl
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Santa Clara, 12/30/14
USC will fall to the Foster Farms Bowl should Arizona end up in San Diego. Getting to play a bowl game in the new Levi's Stadium isn't a bad consolation prize for Seven Win Sark.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
ACC vs. Pac-12
El Paso, 12/27
El Paso is not exactly a premiere destination and almost seems like a let down compared to the lower rated Vegas and Cactus Bowls. But, it seems to fit this Utah team and they are about as close to a lock here as any team in the PAC in any bowl.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
MWC vs Pac-12
Vegas, 12/20
Rejoice Husky Fans, with two PAC teams well positioned for CFB Playoff bowls, it looks really good for Washington to end up in the Vegas Bowl. I don't think that you are necessarily see them play Boise St, though. The Broncos actually are looking pretty good for a CFB At-Large bowl. As such, it looks better that Colorado State will be the opponent.
Cactus Bowl
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
Tempe, 1/2
Now that Stanford is bowl eligible, they are jockeying for position. If they beat UCLA this weekend, they are going to Vegas and UW will fall here. However, I'm guessing that UCLA will squeak out the win. As such, Stanford will be going to Tempe.