The most tangible benefit of UW’s win over Utah Saturday was that it made the Huskies bowl eligible — a .500 record, of which Washington is now assured, is good enough these days, though the Huskies are obviously heavily favored to finish better than that now.
So that means it’s worth reviewing again the Pac-12’s bowl lineup. Here it is:
Champion — BCS title game (this year in Miami) on Jan. 7, or Rose in Pasadena on Jan. 1.
No. 2 — Alamo Bowl vs. Big 12 No. 3, San Antonio, Dec. 29.
No. 3 — Holiday Bowl vs. Big 12 No. 5, San Diego, Dec. 27.
No. 4 — Sun Bowl vs. ACC No. 4, El Paso, Dec. 31.
No. 5 — Las Vegas vs. MWC No. 1, Las Vegas, Dec. 22
No. 6 — Kraft Fight Hunger vs. Navy (if bowl eligible), San Francisco, Dec. 29.
No. 7 — Gildan New Mexico Bowl vs. MWC, Albuquerque, Dec. 15
One thing to remember, though, is that the order does not mean the teams will go to those bowls strictly by where they finish — and I can’t emphasize that enough since that seems to be a common misconception. The bowls are not bound and mostly don’t care about tiebreakers and who beat who head-to-head, etc., so it’s not worth spending much time fretting about any of that.
Instead, the number listed is the order by which the bowls pick teams, and obviously from a list of all remaining bowl-eligible teams at the time they pick.
Each bowl has the option to go down by one game in terms of conference record to pick a team — meaning they can take a 5-4 team over one at 6-3 (but not 4-5) if they desire. That pertains to conference record only in terms of not being able to skip down two games in the standings, not overall record, so theoretically they could take a 6-6 team over a 9-3 team as long as the conference record was within a game.
Largely, as I wrote here a few weeks ago, it’s about trying to get the best matchup, both in terms of selling tickets and for TV (which can differ a little depending on the bowl and the network, though most are on ESPN these days and you wouldn’t be wrong saying ESPN helps guide the process greatly).
As I also wrote a few weeks ago, I still think UW’s most likely options are the last three on the list.
Anything above that seems more of a reach, especially given that UW has also played in the Holiday and Alamo bowls the last two years and both UCLA and USC are likely to be available — the Holiday would kill to have an LA school for once — and that Oregon State and Stanford could also be available and with better records (and yes I realize UW beat both, but again, head-to-head doesn’t matter so one of those other bowls could easily pick OSU or Stanford ahead of UW ). Obviously, you could argue rightly UW has a better record of supporting bowls than those teams — but that’s where the fact UW has been to each in the last two years comes into play a little.
All of this is written assuming Oregon wins the Pac-12, which I’d be shocked not to see happen now. At this point, the only realistic way the Pac-12 would get two BCS teams is for someone other than Oregon to win the conference and Oregon still get into the BCS — hard to see a second Pac-12 team other than the Ducks into the BCS now.
As you can read, the selection of opponents for the last three bowls is a little limited. Navy has already been invited to the Kraft Fight Hunger so that’s set.
The Vegas and New Mexico bowls feature matchups with teams from the Mountain West Conference. The bowl eligible teams in that conference at the moment are Boise State, Fresno State, San Diego State and Nevada, with Air Force likely to get there, needing only to beat 1-8 Hawaii. But that’s it.
UW has already played San Diego State this year. So you’d figure they would try to avoid that. And UW opens next season with Boise State, you also might think they would try to avoid that. But then you might have thought they would have avoided UW and Nebraska playing a second game in 2010 with another one already on the schedule for 2011. It could be, given the limited selection of opponents, that there wouldn’t be much of a choice in opponent. But we’ll see. I wouldn’t write anything in pen at the moment — as we saw Saturday, things can change greatly in one weekend in college football.
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— A reminder that I will again be on the Husky Roundtable Monday at 8:20 a.m. on KJR-AM with Mitch Levy, Hugh Millen and Chuck Nelson.
— Here’s my story for the Monday paper looking back at the Utah game.
— Bud Withers looks back at the weekend that was in the Pac-12.
— Percy Allen wrote about what the new marijuana laws might mean for college athletes in this state.
— UW is 25th in the BCS standings this week, that strength of schedule no doubt helping with the computers. They are the sixth of six Pac-12 teams in the rankings, speaking also to the strength of the conference. UW was also in the BCS standings last year when it started 5-1.
— Here’s the CoachSark.com Sunday Conversation.
— The Salt Lake Tribune also looks back at Saturday’s game, from a Utah perspective,
— The Deseret News has more on Utah’s special teams issues Saturday.
— There are lots of bowl projections out there, none of which really have any more validity than any other —- no one on the outside really knows anymore than anyone else at this stage (and I’m not sure anyone on the inside really knows anything, either, with game still left to be played). But here are the bowl projections from a guy whose work is always worth citing, ESPN.com’s Kevin Gemmell, who has UW going to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
— Gemmell also gave Keith Price a helmet sticker.
— Here’s our story on the ongoing soap opera at WSU.
— The Denver Post looks at UW with an eye toward Saturday’s game with Colorado.
— The Oregonian’s Paul Buker rates UW sixth this week in the Pac-12, though that obviously means putting the Huskies ahead of Arizona, which of course raises the question of how to account for what happened when the two teams played (see how hard it can be to do these things?)