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30 Day Countdown: Day 6 - Predicting UW's Bowl Game

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We have less than a week to go. Today we want to know what road trip you think we'll all be making in the post-season.

Where will Husky fans be watching pre-game festivities this Bowl Season?
Where will Husky fans be watching pre-game festivities this Bowl Season?
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Look at that ticker, will ya'?  Just look at it.  That's a "six".  As in "less than a week".  As in "how long it takes Ryan to grow a decent porn 'stache".  As in "how long it has been since Brad was last sober" (using the most generous definition of the term "sober" that one could defend).  Six days, baby.  You know what that means.

It's officially game week.

Here at the Dawg Pound, we've got our game faces on.  We are in full prognostication mode.  Did you miss our projections on the starting lineup?  Anthony has that right here.  What about our prediction for UW's final record?  Yeah, I got you right here.  Predictions for everybody.

Today we turn our attention to that most hallowed of all sports post-season traditions.  The Bowl Game.  AKA the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" (ESPN got that one right).

The Pac 12 has affiliations with seven bowls.  One of those, the Rose Bowl, is widely viewed as the only "competitor" to what has traditionally been the BCS Bowl Championship Game in terms of national prestige.  Unfotunately, the remainder of the Pac 12 Bowl Schedule lacks the same kind of panache that other conferences have with their affiliations.  Chalk that one up in the column of things to criticize Larry Scott on.  The sorry state of our bowl lineup is surely one of the issues that has warranted legitimate fan criticism and one that is, hopefully, near the top of the Pac 12 leader's agenda.

For those of you needing a refresher, here is the Pac 12 Bowl Lineup for 2014-2015:

Ranking Bowl Location Date/Time TV
1 Rose Bowl Game
Playoff Semifinal Game
Pasadena, CA
Rose Bowl
Thu., Jan. 1
5:00 p.m. ET
ESPN
2 Valero Alamo Bowl
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
San Antonio, TX
Alamodome
Fri., Jan. 2
6:45 p.m. ET
ESPN
3 National University Holiday Bowl
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
San Diego, CA
Qualcomm Stadium
Sat., Dec. 27
8:00 p.m. ET
ESPN
4 San Francisco Bowl
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Santa Clara, CA
Levi's Stadium
Tue., Dec. 30
10:00 p.m. ET
ESPN
5 Hyundai Sun Bowl
ACC vs. Pac-12
El Paso, TX
Sun Bowl Stadium
Sat., Dec. 27
2:00 p.m. ET
CBS
6 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
MWC vs Pac-12
Las Vegas, NV
Sam Boyd Stadium
Sat., Dec. 20
3:30 p.m. ET
ABC
7 Cactus Bowl
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
Tempe, AZ
Sun Devil Stadium
Fri., Jan. 2
10:15 p.m. ET
ESPN

The purpose of this article is to not analyze the relative merits (or lack thereof) of this lineup, but to project where the Huskies are most likely to land.  You will note that this season is a bit of an oddity given the fact that the Rose Bowl will be a host site for one of the seeded playoff games in the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff Series.  With the Rose Bowl, effectively out of the Pac 12 rotation in 2014-15, the projected landing spot for UW gets kind of muddled.  Much depends on whether or not the Pac 12 sends a participant to the Playoffs.  Projecting that requires us to predict the behavior of the yet-to-ever-be convened selection committee.

Ugh.

The good news is that this creates a nice little forum for some debate.  So, let's take advantage.  I've picked the three most likely post-season possibilities for the Huskies based on my read of how the Pac 12 is laying out.  For those of you that missed my game-by-game forecast of the Pac 12 in 2014, you may wish to revisit this link as it is the basis for how I stratified the options below.

Option #1 - Holiday Bowl

If you believe my forecasts for 2014 to the letter (as noted in my Gekko Files piece), then the Holiday Bowl is the most likely outcome for the Huskies.  For this scenario to materialize, the Pac 12 will most likely send one team to the Playoffs and the Huskies will have likely had to have beaten two out of three from Stanford, UCLA and Oregon.  There are other scenarios for this option to materialize, but all require a lesser team to knock off a superior team somewhere else in conference play.

The Huskies have made four appearances in the Holiday Bowl, with the last being that stunning physical domination of Nebraska in 2010.  The most memorable Holiday Bowl appearance for Husky fans might actually be that 2001 game where #9 Texas squeaked past UW 47-43 after twice losing and regaining the lead in the fourth quarter.

Reasons for: Relatively consistent with most pundit predictions of where UW should land; Assumption of a P12 team in the playoffs is fair

Reasons against: Beating two "upper tier" conference opponents, which is the most direct path, is difficult

Option #2 - Sun Bowl

If the Huskies fail to handle any of the trio of Oregon, Stanford and UCLA, but are able to handle the rest of their business, the Sun Bowl emerges as the most likely destination.  Of course, this is not for certain, either.  Lots can influence this - in particular whether or not the P12 sends a participant to the Playoffs (side note: imagine the chaos that will ensue if Oregon loses to Michigan St and USC loses to Notre Dame, but both ended up playing in the P12 Championship.  Could the P12 lose out on a playoff spot altogether?  /mindblown).  But the odds, based on my eyeball test, would seem to favor the Sun Bowl should this scenario play out.  I would think that if you pooled all of the national pundits predicted outcomes for the Pac 12, this is the option that looks most plausible.

Washington has made four appearances in the Sun Bowl compiling a record of 1-3.  Ironically, their only win came against Texas in 1972.  Their latest appearance was a 34-24 loss to Purdue that featured a game in which Cody Pickett completed passes to a  Sun Bowl record-setting 11 different receivers.

Reasons for: Safest pick if you are in "wait and see" mode with this edition of Husky football; Aligns with the pecking order most national types expect to see layout in the Pac

Reasons against: Nobody really wants to go to El Paso, so no reason to click this button

Option #3 - Las Vegas Bowl

I thought about throwing caution to the wind and listing the Rose Bowl as an option here.  However, technically speaking, the Rose Bowl is not "aligned" to the P12 this year.  So, even if UW gets to the College Playoff Series, there is no guarantee that their game is played in Pasadena.  Unfortunately, the likelihood of UW slipping all the way down to the Las Vegas Bowl is more likely ... perhaps even "far more likely".  Basically, the Huskies could finish between 4 and 5 conference wins and still land in this spot if a) the Pac 12 does not send a representative to the Playoffs and b) if they lose to the wrong teams.  Though a 5 win conference season may feel ok on its merits (with a new staff and a new QB), I can't help but feel that Husky fans would be disappointed with a this outcome, no matter how much we all love a trip to Vegas.

The Huskies have an ironic history in the Las Vegas Bowl with their last appearance coming just a few seasons ago against Chris Petersen's Boise State Broncos.  Bishop Sankey had a record setting day and walked away with the MVP award, but the Huskies ultimately lost the game 28-26.  That was the only Las Vegas Bowl appearance in program history.

Reasons for: New staff breaking in a new QB could lead to a breakdown during the season; Rest of Pac is hyper-competitive

Reasons against: Losing games that he is supposed to win is not a Petersen trait; UW has a long and colorful history in avoiding the Las Vegas Bowl

The Verdict - Holiday Bowl

One thing I thought I should point out here is that the San Francisco Bowl got an "upgrade" in 2014 as the Pac tries to position it as a more premium bowl experience.  I mention this because it is a viable option for UW and, in fact, has been noted by many analysts as the projected landing spot for UW.  Jack Follman at Pacific Takes sees it this way.  Ted Miller also went this route.  I actually think that this is slightly less likely than any of the other three only because of the combination of things that may have to happen for the Huskies to effectively get this spot.  Not having a head to head with USC, the other team that could very plausibly be in contention for this spot, makes it hard for any bowl picking between the two teams to not lean in favor of USC.

Regardless, I'm going in another direction altogether.  As I noted in my Gekko File preview, I am of the camp that believes that the Huskies have what it takes to beat both Stanford and UCLA in Seattle in 2014.  And, though I expect a few road losses, they still should end up positioned to take the #3 slot in the conference should whomever emerges as the conference champion get slotted for the Playoffs.  However, there is a scenario here that we all need to brace ourselves for.  If USC loses to Notre Dame but wins the South while Oregon beats Michigan State before going on to win the North, then we are all going to have to root for Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship if we want to see UW maximize its bowl slot.

Stew on that one for a few minutes.  Gross, I know.