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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

November 24, 2014 at 6:52 PM

Pac-12 bowl picture: Muddy, murky and thoroughly unsettled

Did that headline state it plainly enough? It’s really hard figuring out who might be going where in Pac-12 bowls with one weekend left in the regular season.

Eight teams — everybody but Cal, Oregon State, Washington State and Colorado — are eligible. Cal could make it in with a victory over BYU, but OSU would need a monumental upset of Oregon.

The Pac-12-contracted bowls, in order:

— Rose

— Alamo

— Holiday

— Foster Farms (the ex-Kraft Fight Hunger)

— Sun

— Las Vegas

— Cactus (Tempe, Ariz.)

Most of the intrigue, of course, centers on what happens with the league championship, whether the Pac-12 gets a team in the four-team playoff, and then if, or how many, teams it gets in the other four “big six” bowls. Recall, this year, the Rose and Sugar serve as the national semifinals for the playoff. The other four — Fiesta, Orange, Cotton and Peach — are the ones that are also future semifinal sites. This year, they fill out the Nos. 5-12 spots picked by the playoff selection committee.

I had a bowl director tell me Monday he could see as many as three Pac-12 teams in that top 12 — one in the playoff and two in the other four bowls. It’s not illogical: Say UCLA wins out, beating Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. Whether the Bruins crash the playoff or not (that’s still iffy), Oregon would remain in that top 12. And then the winner of Friday’s Territorial Cup game between Arizona and Arizona State will have a 10-2 record and would look pretty promising for the top 12.

Probably more likely is Oregon winning out, and then either UCLA or the ASU-Arizona winner making the top 12. The Bruins, even with three losses, might hang ahead of a 10-win Arizona State team on the basis of their dominating 62-27 win at ASU. Arizona, with 10 wins, would be more viable as a second top-12 team, because it only lost 17-7 at UCLA.

All those variables have a heavy impact on what happens below. Some of the leans and likelihoods:

Alamo: The bowl has never hosted an LA school. If the Bruins end up available, with Brett Hundley, they’d be appealing.

Holiday: This one has never had USC, which would be an obvious pick. That’s if the Trojans don’t get picked off by the Alamo, with UCLA going higher. (Of impact will be this week’s USC-Notre Dame game, which could drop USC to 7-5 and make one of the Arizonas more appealing to the Holiday.)

Foster Farms: Stanford is a logical pick, but the Cardinal must first beat UCLA. At 4-5 if they lose, the bowl can’t pick them in favor of a 6-3 team available.

Sun/Las Vegas/Cactus: Utah begins to figure in, as does Washington. Both would have eight wins if they prevail this week. There’s so much uncertainty above — not to mention with the possible addition of Cal and/or Oregon State — that these would be hard to project. Of the teams likely to be available, Utah would be most proximate to the Sun.





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