We already know the Huskies are headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 18 years. Their opponent and the rest of the bowl pairings are announced Sunday. Here are Jon Wilner’s final projections.
Quick primer for Sunday before we get to the projections.
All times Pacific:
9:30 a.m.: College Football Playoff pairings announced
11 a.m.: Selection committee top-25 rankings announced
12 p.m.: Matchups for New Year’s Six bowls announced
(All on ESPN.)
12:15ish: Conferences finalize bowl assignments/pairings for the non-NY6/CFP games (not televised).
The Pac-12 probably won’t need more than 90 minutes to set its postseason lineup.
There are two general scenarios — one with Washington State in the New Year’s Six and the other with the Cougars in a Pac-12-affiliated bowl — and bowl officials have had a week to discuss their options.
There won’t be any scrambling to find a home for an at-large team.
By 2 p.m., everything should all be set.
Here’s the Hotline’s best guess …
If Washington State doesn’t make the New Year’s Six …
First appearance since the 2000 season.
Alamo: Washington State
Record, ranking and head-to-head wins over Stanford, Oregon and Utah make the Cougars an easy pick for the San Antonio-based bowl. Plus, Mike Leach back in Texas!
Ducks haven’t participated in a decade and bring brand appeal and (presumably) a solid contingent to San Diego. Bowl officials would hope for the best with Justin Herbert. (Note: We’re not discounting the possibility of Utah landing here, but Oregon seems more likely.)
Back in Levi’s Stadium to (probably) face one of its recent Rose Bowl counterparts, Michigan State or Wisconsin. Bowl must hope for a better turnout from Stanford fans than it got in 2014.
With Holiday leaning green and the Redbox off the table — the Utes were just in Levi’s for the title game — the conference runner-up falls all the way to the No. 5 bowl. Can’t believe anybody is happy about that in SLC.
Las Vegas: Arizona State
Devils must be selected above Cal because of conference record, but they probably would be anyhow with the convenience for road-tripping fans and the appeal of Herm Edwards.
A bit of Golden Bear symmetry: First bowl game of the Jeff Tedford era was in Phoenix. Don’t think Cal’s quarterback will throw for 400 yards this time. Or become a Hall of Famer.
If Washington State jumps into the New Year’s Six …
If it’s Michigan, then for the second UW game in a row: first team to 10 wins.
Fiesta/Peach: Washington State
Committee will make the best pairing with serious consideration given to geography/travel.
Last time in San Antonio, in the 2015 season, the Ducks lost to TCU 47-41 in triple-overtime, blowing a 31-point lead in the process.
In this scenario, Utes jump Stanford into the Holiday based on division title, head-to-head result and the prospect of a sea of red in San Diego. Noteworthy: Neither team has ever participated.
Seems locked in regardless.
Time for some deal-making …
Las Vegas: Arizona State
Per conference policy, ASU should be Sun-bound by virtue of having a better record than Cal (5-4 vs 4-5). except the Devils were just in El Paso last year. If all parties agree (the conference, both schools and both bowls), the teams could flip to avoid a repeat for ASU.