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Updated Playoff, NY6 and PAC 12 Bowl Projections

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Will UW end up in the Cotton Bowl?

Washington State v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The big question around these parts is whether or not enough happened on Championship Weekend to create the breaks required for UW to selected for a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Ladies and gentleman, get your hotel reservations for Dallas in right now!

Oh, and while you are at it, you might as well book some rooms in both San Antonio and San Diego. Just in case.

The truth is that just about every break that UW needed to get into the Cotton Bowl conversation happened over the weekend. Sure, it would have been much better had Fresno State beat Boise State (they lost 17-14). And it might have helped had Wisconsin blitzed Ohio State.

But the big shoes that had to fall were already on the ground before dinner started yesterday. USC beat Stanford in the PAC 12 championship thus handing them their fourth loss while Oklahoma embarrassed TCU to win the Big 12 Championship handily.

The latter is the key for UW’s hopes to land a Cotton Bowl bid. Now the committee must decide between Washington, TCU and, possibly, Notre Dame for that last NY6 position.

Washington has the best record having only two losses on the ledger and having ended their season with an emphatic blowout of a top 15 team. Their case is weakened by not having played in the PAC 12 championship and for having a weak strength of schedule.

TCU has the benefit of having played in a conference championship game - albeit from a 10 team conference - and lost all three of their games to top 25 opponents. But they closed out the season poorly going just 3-3 in their final six. That they could mount almost no offense against a weak Oklahoma D in the championship game will be a consideration.

Notre Dame has the weakest argument of all having lost three games including getting blown out by Stanford. They also finished meekly losing their last two. But they will get credit for an ambitious strength of schedule.

Updated CFP, NY6 and PAC 12 Bowl Projections

Bowl Team Opponent Note
Bowl Team Opponent Note
Rose Bowl (2) Oklahoma (3) Georgia CFP
Sugar Bowl (1) Clemson (4) Ohio St CFP
Orange Bowl Miami Alabama NY6
Peach Bowl UCF Auburn NY6
Fiesta Bowl USC Wisconsin NY6
Cotton Bowl Washington Penn State NY6
Alamo Bowl Stanford TCU Pac 12
Holiday Bowl Washington State Northwestern Pac 12
Foster Farms Bowl Oregon Michigan Pac 12
Sun Bowl Arizona State Louisville Pac 12
Las Vegas Bowl Arizona Boise St Pac 12
Cactus Bowl Utah Iowa State Pac 12
Heart of Dallas UCLA Texas Tech At Large

With those moving parts now accounted for, let’s look at my full set of projections.

CFP and #NY6

First, you will note that I have Ohio State in the playoff over Alabama. In the end, I do think that the Buckeyes get credit for both their conference championship and their strength of schedule, neither of which is very impressive for the Crimson Tide. However, it could easily go the other way. If it does, UW’s destiny would not really be affected.

Among the NY6 bowls, I am projecting UW to the Cotton. This is based on the fact that the resumes of TCU and UW are similar enough that the tie-breaker of “momentum” will come into play. This is at best at 50/50 situation. While I don’t think the committee will care about the Cotton Bowl being a TCU home game equivalent, they will certainly consider that two of their losses is to a single playoff team.

The opponent in the Cotton Bowl will almost certainly be Penn State. I couldn’t come up with any scenario where it made sense to slot them somewhere else. The Nittany Lions would present an interesting and compelling matchup for UW should they be fortunate enough to get the selection. A win over Penn State would complete change the perception of the success of 2017 and set the Huskies up to be a top 5-ish kind of team going into 2018.

I’ve also updated my projection for the Fiesta Bowl. I still have USC playing there - that much is obvious. But I now have them playing Wisconsin in what would be another great opportunity for the PAC to show its relative competitiveness over the B1G (because USC v Penn St, Oregon v Nebraska, and even Colorado v Michigan over the past two seasons haven’t been compelling enough).

PAC 12 Projections

Because I have UW to the Cotton, a few teams essentially “move up”. Stanford to the Alamo is the first team to move. I still have TCU being the opponent in that one.

It’s PAC 12 vs B1G in the next two. I have WSU moving up into the the Holiday Bowl and I now project them to play Northwestern (though this could easily be Michigan). I also have the Foster Farms Bowl taking the 6-3 Arizona State Sun Devils and pairing them up with Michigan.

I like the Sun Bowl the “reach down” and take 4-5 Oregon over 5-4 Arizona. Let’s call this the Justin Herbert effect. I have them paired with Louisvilled just as I had them last week. But don’t discount the notion that a Khalil Tate vs Lamar Jackson matchup might be compelling for the folks in El Paso.

Arizona (or Oregon) to Las Vegas and playing Boise State comes next. They may as well call that the Boise State South bowl for how many appearances the Broncos have made there.

The Cactus Bowl will get Utah and pair them up with someone. My guess is Iowa State, but it could be Kansas State.

UCLA has qualified for an at large bid. I still think that they are going to the Heart of Dallas Bowl, but who knows?

What if UW doesn’t go to the Cotton?

There are only three places that UW realistically could end up: the Cotton Bowl, the Alamo Bowl and the Holiday Bowl.

UW to the Cotton Bowl (40% Gekko certainty)

While I’m projecting UW to the Cotton, I know that it is really a 50/50 kind of proposition. Should they get there, I think that they only play Penn State.

Possible Opponents:

Penn State

UW to the Alamo Bowl (40% Gekko certainty)

UW to San Antonio feels like the most certain outcome should they not be ranked for the Cotton Bowl. Since TCU is the main competition for that Cotton Bowl slot, the UW opponent in the Alamo would have to be some other team. But who?

It would almost certainly be Oklahoma State. There is an outside chance it could be Texas, but I see that as most unlikely.

Possible Opponents

Oklahoma State

Texas

UW to the Holiday Bowl (20% Gekko certainty)

If most everything goes against plan, the Huskies could fall to the Holiday Bowl. They would not fall any further than this.

The Holiday Bowl matches PAC 12 vs B1G. There are really only three opponents that can fall to the Holiday Bowl out of the B1G: Michigan State, Northwestern and Michigan. Michigan St and Northwestern each finished one game better than the Wolverines, so my guess is one of those two would have first shot.

NW beat MSU earlier in the season which is the only reason I think that they’d be the first opponent up.

Possible Opponents

Northwestern

Michigan State

Michigan


Enjoy Selection Sunday, Husky fans. This will be your open thread.

2017-18 PAC 12 Bowl Schedule

Bowl Opponent Date TV
Bowl Opponent Date TV
Rose Bowl Big Ten #1 Jan 1 ESPN
Cotton Bowl NY6 Dec 29 ESPN
Alamo Bowl Big 12 #2 Dec 28 ESPN
Holiday Bowl Big Ten #4 Dec 28 FS1
Foster Farms Bowl Big Ten Dec 27 FOX
Sun Bowl ACC Dec 29 CBS
Las Vegas Bowl MWC #1 Dec 16 ABC
Cactus Bowl Big 12 Dec 26 ESPN