Last season, UCLA backed into the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl thanks to a waiver granted by the NCAA.
The Bruins had six wins, but also had a losing record of 6-7, typically a disqualifying finish. Still, as Pac-12 South Division champions, UCLA received a dispensation to go to a bowl game.
This season, it looks as if there won't be any waivers needed. The Bruins are improving under first-year head coach Jim Mora. And while attending another bowl game is always a plus, some UCLA fans might be disgruntled that we've projected them into the same “lowly” bowl game this season.
In reality, this bowl projection has more to do with the relative strength of the conference overall.
The typical opponent for this bowl would be a ninth selection out of the ACC, but like last season, it doesn't seem likely the ACC will have nine eligible teams (as North Carolina is ineligible due to NCAA sanctions). Last season, the Big Ten gobbled up the spot, but with two ineligible teams in that conference this season, the selection committee will be hard-pressed to find any team to fill the spot.
Luckily, a local team should be sitting patiently by the phone. San Jose State hasn't been to a bowl game since the 2006 season, and has spent much of the time since then as a perennial doormat of the FBS.
This season, however, the Spartans are off to a 4-1 start, and should be able to find at least two more wins in the remaining weak WAC schedule.
Projection: UCLA vs. San Jose State