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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 12, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Talking about bowl games

I’ve gotten a few different questions on UW and bowl games the last few weeks, so I figured I’d try to address all the various issues in one information-packed entry.
And I’ll divide it into three categories:
One question I’ve gotten a lot lately, and I’m paraphrasing and condensing a bit here, is: “Why don’t you stop talking about UW and bowl games? It was stupid to talk about it before the season and it’s stupider now? It’s all you dumb media types that kept talking and writing about it that put all this pressure on the Huskies in the first place.”
I’d answer that it didn’t seem unrealistic at all before the season to talk about UW and bowl games. UW was generally picked in the 4-6 range in the Pac-10, right smack in the middle of bowl territory, with some projecting the Huskies even a little higher. And UW coaches and players openly talked about a bowl game before the season and even after it began. The most overt expression of that hope may have come after the season-opening loss at BYU when coach Steve Sarkisian and every player that met the media said that “we’ve got 12 more football games to play.” It was obvious they were all trying to make clear to everyone they didn’t expect the BYU loss to derail their hopes of a bowl game (even if in retrospect it may be viewed as having done just that).

Some of our coverage was merely reflecting the optimism in the program itself, that a bowl game not only seemed possible but was the stated goal. But did I think independently of that optimsim that UW would go to a bowl game this year? Yes, I did. I’ve gone on record saying I thought UW would go 7-5 this year in the regular season. Obviously I was wrong, though the Huskies could still get to seven wins and save at least one-half of my prediction.
But until the bowl game possibility is extinguished, I think it’s a relevant topic to discuss.
To be clear, there is basically zero chance that UW would be left out of a bowl if it were to get to 6-6. The Pac-10 has six guaranteed bowl slots, and there are only eight Pac-10 teams left that could still theoretically get bids — USC is ineligible and WSU already is eliminated.
As best I can figure, seven Pac-10 teams could still get bowl eligible, but that includes things like Cal beating one of Stanford or Oregon but then losing at home to UW, Arizona State beating both Stanford and Arizona and winning each of its last three, etc. Realistically, even getting six eligible might be tough (remember, ASU has to win seven because it has two FCS wins), and it’s possible only four or five get in. All UW really needs to worry about is getting to 6-6.
The Pac-10 bowl slots look like this:
1 — Pac-10 champ goes to BCS title game or Rose Bowl.
2 — The No. 2 seed goes to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio Dec. 29 (though Stanford still has a chance to be a second team into the BCS),
3 — The No. 3 seed is slotted for the Holiday Bowl Dec. 30,
4 — No. 4 is slotted to the Sun Bowl Dec. 31,
5 — No. 5 is slotted to the Las Vegas Bowl Dec. 22,
6 — And No. 6 is slottted to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Jan. 9 (yes, that’s not a typo).
I don’t have the typing fingers left to get into every single possibility, but it’s not out of the question that UW could rise as high as the Holiday if it won out, depending on what happens elsewhere (really unlikely, to be sure, but not mathematically impossible).
More likely if UW gets to 6-6 is any of the bowls from four on down, and most realistic is one of the last two — either Vegas (which pits a Pac-10 team against a team from MWC) or the Hunger (against the WAC).
This question has come about because the NCAA powers-that-be have left open the possibility of allowing teams with losing records into bowl games if there aren’t enough teams with .500 or winning records to fill the 70 available bowl slots (here’s a story from September on that topic).
Realistically, I don’t think it will happen. For starters, if there aren’t enough Pac-10 teams to fill all the slots but ASU gets to 6-6, what would probably happen first is that the rule keeping the Devils out (not allowing both of their FCS wins to count) would be relaxed before they’d start putting teams with losing records into bowls.
And just looking at the landscape, I’m betting they won’t need to dip into teams with losing records.
One enterprising reader this week did some solid research on this topic this week, though, and thinks it could happen. I’ll pass along what he wrote (noting that I checked over it enough that I’m comfortable he’s got it right).
Wrote the reader:

I have already gone over the bowl eligibility for the 70 bowl spots and found the following:
— 47 teams have already reached bowl eligibility (this does not include Syracuse, which has six wins, but two against FCS teams).
— 22 teams have been eliminated from qualifying (this includes USC).
That leaves 23 spots for 51 teams (remember that there are 120 teams overall).
I went over the schedules of each of those teams and found that 17 teams are very likely to get to six wins and 16 teams will most likely not (including UW).
That leaves six spots for 18 teams. Those 18 teams are: Boston College, Texas, Connecticut, Rutgers, Purdue, Army, Kent State, Western Michigan, BYU, California, Oregon State, UCLA, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas State, Florida International, Middle Tennessee, Idaho (the Vandals actually have 13 games and I guess would qualify at 6-7 — my note, not sure on that but I’ll leave it in).
It is very likely that at least six of those teams will become bowl eligible, but it is definitely possible that enough will not qualify. If I had to guess I would say 10 to 20 percent. But if the Huskies finish at 5-7 and there is even one spot available for a 5-7 team I would imagine the Huskies would be a pretty likely candidates due to the Pac-10 probably having a bowl tie in it needs to fulfill along with the fact that Huskies could probably draw pretty well in their first bowl game in quite a while.

I agree completely with his last point. If there are not enough eligible teams, the Pac-10 has open slots, and UW is there at 5-7, the Huskies would probably get called on — there would obviously be pressure from everyone to have the bowls pick teams from the conferences with which they are affiliated. But I don’t think I would count on it. UW’s best-case scenarion is obviously to win out and get to 6-6 and not have to worry about it.
Making that happen, however, is obviously a lot easier said than done the way things have gone so far.



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