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The Gekko Files: Pre-Conference Championships Bowl Projections

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Bowl season is taking shape. Here are our latest projections.

Where will this Husky fan spend her holiday season?
Where will this Husky fan spend her holiday season?
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

One thing I know about Husky fans:  when we want something, we want it now.  We all have the "traffic route" options turned ON on our GPS units.  Lines at coffee shops are simply reasons to find a new favorite brew.  We probably lead the nation in learning the sex of our children before birth.  "Rebuilding" is a phrase that is applicable only to bridge repairs and house fires.

The topic du jour, of course, is to which bowl the Huskies be invited.  The answer is "I don't know" but I already know that this is an unacceptable response to you, Dawg Nation.

Thus, I have put pen to paper and come up with my very best guesses on how the whole bowl situation will end up playing out once conference championship games have concluded next weekend.  At the risk of giving the ending away, I have the Huskies going to the Cactus Bowl (formerly the Copper Bowl then Insight.com Bowl then Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl) in Tempe on January 2.  The game will be played at Sun Devil Stadium.

Here is some discussion to feed your review of the rest of my projections.

  • If UW goes to the Cactus on January 2nd, they'll have a very long break between games and plenty of time to get in all 15 of their allotted practices. Another benefit? They will have plenty of time to heal up. Jermaine Kelly could very possibly return. Ben Riva and Kasen Williams could also benefit greatly from the extra few weeks.

  • Despite my certainty, UW to the Cactus is not a lock.  If Oregon dominates Arizona in the P12 Championship, it could bounce Arizona out of a New Year's Six invite (presumably the Fiesta Bowl).  Similarly, if Oregon gets dominated - again - by the Wildcats, they could get severely demoted.  Still, even if one of those situations materializes, it is hard to see the P12 only getting one spot in a CFB Playoff Committee appointed Bowl game.

  • UW to Vegas is still possible, despite being unlikely.  I haven't played it all out, but it looks to my eyeballs that if both Baylor (K-State) and Ohio State (Wisconsin) lose next weekend, a slot for either ASU or UCLA could open in the New Year's Six.  If that happens, everybody moves up one and UW goes to Vegas.

  • In the odd circumstance that UW gets bounced out of the Cactus, they'll still go to a bowl as the most "attractive" of the unslotted teams in the nation.  Eight wins will do that for you.  The Texas Bowl would look like a strong possibility in that case.

  • The fact that UW is likely taking the last contracted bowl slot for the Pac despite the fact that one team is getting an at-large to a New Year's Six game is a big reminder that Larry Scott and the Pac 12 have some work left to do with their Bowl game agreements.  The Pac could have easily had two more bowl eligible teams should Cal have beaten BYU and Oregon State had pulled out that Utah win earlier in the year.  One of those teams would be at real risk of not going to a Bowl this year should they have gained eligibility. 

  • Amongst the rest of my picks, only UCLA / Arizona State slotting gave me heartburn.  As I note below, you could make a real case for the Alamo Bowl wanting to invite the Sun Devils - geographic proximity, Todd Graham's roots and connections in Texas, local interest, etc.  However, I think that the head to head win for UCLA, the television sets in LA and the name brand recognition of Brett Hundley will sway the Alamo Bowl to pick the Bruins.

Here is my forecast as of Sunday morning:

1
Rose Bowl (Playoffs) Pasadena, 1/1/15
ESPN
Oregon Florida State
Both still need to win their conference championships, but Oregon and FSU are clearly on a collision course and the Rose Bowl looks like the destination. Of course, if Alabama loses to Missouri, Oregon will jump to the one seed ... and then who knows?
--
Fiesta Bowl (CFB At-Large) Glendale AZ 12/31
ESPN
Arizona Boise State
Last week, this was UCLA's. Now, Arizona seems a lock. Since the worst they can do for the season is a splitting of a series with a top two team in the nation, the Wildcats are sure to have a respectable resume and earn this invite. Boise State seems poised to earn the automatic "Group of Five" bid, so this matchup seems like a lock.
2
Valero Alamo Bowl
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
San Antonio, 1/2/15
ESPN
UCLA Oklahoma
So, this is an interesting one given that both UCLA and ASU are tied and that UCLA won the head to head. You could argue that that Todd Graham, with his Texas roots and geographic proximity, may be a more attractive option for the bowl organizers. Still, I think that UCLA is the choice here. They are a more defensible choice and their ability to attract television eyeballs is probably superior based on their geographic footprint. If you presume that Baylor beats K-State next week, than Oklahoma will be the opponent here.
3
National University Holiday Bowl
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
San Diego, 12/27/14
ESPN
Arizona State Minnesota
It has to be either ASU or UCLA here. By default, I think that this is where the Sun Devils will land. By virtue of their win over Nebraska, I think the Golden Gophers will be joining them.
4
Foster Farms (SF) Bowl
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Santa Clara, 12/30/14
ESPN
USC Maryland
We are starting to scrape barrell bottoms here. The Trojans seem destined for "best of the rest" status after their dominating win over Notre Dame. With Maryland's win over Iowa earlier in the year, I think they will end up facing off against Seven Win Sark and crew.
5
Hyundai Sun Bowl
ACC vs. Pac-12
El Paso, 12/27
CBS
Utah Duke
Utah is pretty much set in stone to the Sun Bowl given their win over Stanford. I'm guessing their foe could come down to Duke or Louisville with the latter likely having been selected in a higher ranked ACC bowl.
6
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
MWC vs Pac-12
Vegas, 12/20
ABC
Stanford Colorado State
The Cardinal locked up the Vegas Bowl (assuming Arizona goes to the Fiesta) by whipping UCLA. Vegas and Stanford just seem like an odd mix. Anyhoooo....this is the designated bowl for the MWC champ who, in this case, will be playing in the Fiesta Bowl. As such, Colorado State is your runner up.
7
Cactus Bowl
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
Tempe, 1/2
ESPN
Washington North Carolina
Get your New Year's trips to Tempe planned, folks. The Cactus Bowl - rooted in the old Copper Bowl - is your very likely landing spot. I have to think that the most likely opponent will NOT be a Big 12 team as all of their eligible teams will have gone to higher tiered bowls. We'll be playing a "best of the rest" at-large team. North Carolina is my best guess. But Texas A&M could get pushed here based on geography depending on how the SEC sorts out. A Sun Belt team like Arkansas St or Texas St is also a distinct possibility.