With one week remaining in the regular season, and conference championship games to follow, the fate of every Pac-12 team has already been decided. With a win over the Utes, Washington State became the ninth team in the conference to clinch bowl eligibility, joining Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, Washington, and, of course, USC. This is exciting news for the Pac-12, as it now gets to send the largest number of teams in its short history to bowl games. This is a testament to the growing depth of the conference.
However, this depth has come at a cost. Due to the efforts of multiple South division teams (your Trojans included) in defeating the conference’s national title contenders, the Pac-12 will likely only have one representative in a BCS bowl game. Because the payouts from every bowl game are split among the conference, the lack of a second BCS berth will end up costing each team nearly half a million dollars. While this may not be a problem for schools with deep pockets like SC, it could have a long-term effect on the teams that rely on that money to continue growing. So ironically, the Pac-12’s depth has now started preventing the conference from growing deeper.
All that aside, you can bet that Larry Scott is looking forward to a holiday season that will showcase his conference in nine different bowl games. And though there are still two weeks before the matchups shake out, we thought we’d give you an idea of where we think they’ll end up. Unfortunately, the Pac-12 only has seven guaranteed bowl affiliations, so it’s a bit of a crapshoot once you hit the bottom of the standings…
Record: 4-4 (7-4)
Remaining Games: @ Arizona St.
Bowl Projection: New Mexico Bowl (vs. Boise St.), 12/21/2013
Comments: The upset victory over Oregon last week may be the last thing that Arizona fans get to celebrate this season. With a tough matchup against the Sun Devils ahead, the Wildcats will likely find themselves in the only place worse than Tempe: Albuquerque.
Record: 7-1 (9-2)
Remaining Games: vs. Arizona, vs. Stanford (PAC-12 Championship)
Bowl Projection: Sun Bowl (vs. Georgia Tech), 12/31/2013
Comments: Despite finishing with the best record in the Pac-12 regular season, Arizona State will likely be a victim of the bowl selection rules, as they will probably end up in the Sun Bowl. The Sun Devils simply don’t have the fans or the tradition to justify taking them in a bowl game over Oregon or USC.
Record: 6-2 (9-2)
Remaining Games: vs. Oregon St.
Bowl Projection: Alamo Bowl (vs. Texas), 12/30/2013
Comments: I doubt when De’Anthony Thomas said, “We already won a Rose Bowl, so it feels like whatever,” he had the Alamo Bowl in mind, but I guess he got his wish. After two disappointing losses, the Ducks will end their season in beautiful San Antonio instead of that shantytown Pasadena.
Record: 4-4 (6-5)
Remaining Games: @ Oregon
Bowl Projection: AdvoCare V100 Bowl (vs. Boston College), 12/31/2013
Comments: While this bowl bid is reserved for the tenth SEC team, Mississippi State looks unlikely to qualify allowing the spot to fall to another conference. Oregon State’s recent self-destruction will likely mean that they will be the last Pac-12 team to get a bid. And while Boston College may seem like an easy opponent, the Beavers will have to slow down leading rusher Andre Williams.
Record: 7-2 (9-2)
Remaining Games: vs. Notre Dame, @ Arizona St. (PAC-12 Championship)
Bowl Projection: Rose Bowl (vs. Ohio State), 1/1/2014
Comments: Stanford fans better be sending a holiday gift-basket to Tucson. Thanks to Arizona’s shellacking of Oregon, Stanford has found its way back in the Pac-12 Championship. The matchup against Arizona State is no gimme, but you can expect to see Stanford playing on New Year’s Day once again (God help us).
Record: 5-3 (8-3)
Remaining Games: @ USC
Bowl Projection: Las Vegas Bowl (vs. Utah St.), 12/21/2013
Comments: A loss to USC at the Coliseum will cap off a disappointing end to a promising season for the Bruins. Still, UCLA can take joy in their Las Vegas Bowl matchup, which may be enough of a lollipop for the Bruins to win their first bowl game since taking home the prestigious Eaglebank Bowl title in 2009 after a win over the mighty Temple Owls.
Record: 6-2 (9-3)
Remaining Games: vs. UCLA
Bowl Projection: Holiday Bowl (vs. Kansas St.), 12/30/2013
Comments: After spending the season as one of the most intriguing stories in college football, the Trojans will ride a big win over UCLA into a higher bowl bid than anyone could have anticipated. The strength of the USC fan base and the national interest the team has generated will make it an easy choice for Holiday Bowl officials.
Record: 4-4 (7-4)
Remaining Games: vs. Washington State
Bowl Projection: Fight Hunger Bowl (vs. BYU), 12/27/2013
Comments: Of the 4-4 teams in the Pac-12, Washington appears the most likely to win their final matchup, which would earn them a trip to San Francisco to play BYU (who accepted their bowl bid in late October).
Record: 4-4 (6-5)
Remaining Games: @ Washington
Bowl Projection: Poinsettia Bowl (vs. San Diego St.), 12/26/2013
Comments: With Army failing to qualify for their automatic bid, Washington State may get the opportunity to take their place in San Diego. Though their matchup against the Aztecs may not make it the most friendly environment, I doubt anyone in Pullman will be complaining about their first bowl game in 10 years.
All in all, it looks to be a fun winter for most everyone in the Pac-12. As for Cal, Colorado, and Utah… well, thanks for the Ws.