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Originally published October 29, 2013 at 5:11 PM | Page modified October 30, 2013 at 10:37 PM

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A Pac-12 bowl game primer

It’s never too early to start planning for the bowl season: Here’s a look at postseason hopes for Pac-12 teams.


Seattle Times college football reporter

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On the edge of November (with a little Halloween-night revelry scheduled in Pullman first), there are 10 Pac-12 football teams with their minds on bowl booty. And, oh yeah, a trophy from the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.

California and Colorado, you’re excused from this discussion so you can get a head start on the recruiting trail or the training room.

The rest of the league, from Oregon to Washington State, is grappling for a place in the postseason. Granted, those places are as different as Bali and Vladivostok, but that’s the bowl season.

A refresher on the bowls, which pick in this order, and may choose a lower-placing team in the Pac-12 standings if it’s within a game of the team passed over:

BCS title: Jan. 6, Pasadena.

Rose Bowl: Jan. 1, Pasadena.

Alamo: Dec. 30, San Antonio.

Holiday: Dec. 30, San Diego.

Sun: Dec. 31, El Paso.

Las Vegas: Dec. 21.

Fight Hunger: Dec. 27, San Francisco.

New Mexico: Dec. 21, Albuquerque.

The Alamo and Holiday Bowls are dubbed “Tier II“ here. As for the chances quoted, they’re arbitrary, capricious, unscientific, free of empirical encumbrance and maybe even highly debatable.

Oregon (8-0, 5-0)

What’s left: At Stanford, Utah, at Arizona, Oregon State.

Shot at the BCS title game: 55 percent.

Where it could go south: QB Marcus Mariota has had some shaky moments the past two weeks against WSU and UCLA. Dynamic De’Anthony Thomas can’t seem to stay on the field.

Stanford (7-1, 5-1)

What’s left: Oregon, at USC, Cal, Notre Dame

Shot at a BCS bowl: 50 percent.

Where it could go south: Stanford has at key times been unwilling (Utah) or unable (Oregon State) to pound the ball. QB Kevin Hogan has played unspectacularly, and Cardinal might need to get him more involved with the run. Playing Oregon tough next week could be key for a BCS bid.

Arizona State (5-2, 3-1)

What’s left: At WSU, at Utah, Oregon State, at UCLA, Arizona.

Shot at a Tier II bowl: 40 percent.

Where it could go south: Sun Devils haven’t gotten much done on the road, and they have three games there that could be troublesome, especially Nov. 23 in Pasadena.

Oregon State (6-2, 4-1)

What’s left: USC, at ASU, Washington, at Oregon.

Shot at a Tier II bowl: 30 percent.

Where it could go south: No doubt the Holiday wouldn’t mind the Beavers, who haven’t been there. But Oregon State went to the Alamo in 2012, and probably loses out to ASU or UCLA in a deadlock for San Antonio. A head-up victory over Arizona State or Washington could thus be pivotal.

UCLA (5-2, 2-2)

What’s left: Colorado, at Arizona, Washington, Arizona State, at USC.

Shot at a Tier II bowl: 30 percent.

Where it could go south: QB Brett Hundley isn’t playing very well, averaging 4.4 yards per pass attempt in the two-game Stanford-Oregon gauntlet. And the offensive line needs to get healthy.

USC (5-3, 2-2)

What’s left: At OSU, at Cal, Stanford, at Colorado, UCLA.

Shot at a Tier II bowl: 20 percent.

Where it could go south: Depleted Trojans are among the league’s most beat-up outfits, and Marqise Lee can’t get healthy. The schedule is a mix of the menacing and the meek on opposite weeks.

Washington (5-3, 2-3)

What’s left: Colorado, at UCLA, at Oregon State, WSU.

Shot at a Tier II bowl: 20 percent.

Where it could go south: Huskies might need to win out to get to the Alamo or Holiday, a tall order for a team that’s lost eight of its past 10 Pac-12 road games. Allowing second-most sacks in the Pac-12 (22) isn’t helping Keith Price’s well-being.

Arizona (5-2, 2-2)

What’s left: At Cal, UCLA, WSU, Oregon, at ASU.

Shot at a Tier II bowl: 10 percent.

Where it could go south: ’Zona still the most pass-challenged team in the league, with easily the fewest yards through the air.

Utah (4-4, 1-4)

What’s left: ASU, at Oregon, at WSU, Colorado.

Shot at a bowl game: 55 percent.

Where it could go south: Utes struggle to throw the ball (15 TDs, 15 interceptions) in the best of circumstances, and lately, QB Travis Wilson has battled problems with his hand. Very good chance the Nov. 23 game in Pullman will have big bowl-eligibility implications for both teams.

Washington State (4-4, 2-3)

What’s left: ASU, at Arizona, Utah, at UW.

Shot at a bowl game: 30 percent.

Where it could go south: Cougars have sagged defensively lately, allowing 1,317 yards to the Oregon schools. Interceptions (a league-leading 19) are a continuing problem. Reality is, WSU needed Colorado on the schedule this year.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com




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