Arizona Football: Breaking Down the Wildcats' Potential Bowl Destinations

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Arizona Football: Breaking Down the Wildcats' Potential Bowl Destinations
Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez

The Arizona Wildcats (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) are bowl eligible in RichRod's first year at the helm. Here's a breakdown of where they may wind up this bowl season.

 

What we know: Seven Pac-12 teams are currently bowl-eligible: Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State, Washington, UCLA, USC and Arizona.

Two more teams, Arizona State and Utah, can still join the party. Three teams, California, Washington State and Colorado, will not participate in a bowl this year.

 

What else we know: The order in which other Pac-12 teams finish directly impacts where, if anywhere, the Wildcats place in the Pac-12 conference bowl tie-in pecking order, as follows:

Rose Bowl: Pac-12 No. 1 vs. Big Ten/BCS

Alamo Bowl: Pac-12 No. 2 vs. Big-12

Holiday Bowl: Pac-12 No. 3 vs. Big-12

Sun Bowl: Pac-12 No. 4 vs. ACC

Las Vegas Bowl: Pac-12 No. 5 vs. MWC

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Pac-12 No. 6 vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl: Pac-12 No. 7 vs. MWC

 

Bowls we can safely rule out: The Wildcats will not play in the Rose, Alamo or Holiday Bowls.

Even if Oregon ends up in the BCS National Championship game and a Pac-12 school—say, Stanford—is selected ahead of a non-Pac-12 school to participate in the Rose Bowl, the 'Cats will be unable to crack any of the the Pac-12's top-three bowl tie-ins.

The reason being: Arizona cannot finish ahead of Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State or UCLA in conference play.

Which bowl game will the Wildcats end up in?

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Bowls that are still in play: Arizona is still in contention for the Sun, Las Vegas, Kraft Fight Hunger and New Mexico Bowls. Should they lose out and fall to 8th or 9th in the conference pecking order, they can still be selected to play elsewhere.

 

Scenario(s) in which the 'Cats can land in the Hyundai Sun Bowl:

Scenario No. 1: Arizona wins out. Oregon reaches the BCS National Championship game. Stanford finishes in the top-14 of the BCS standings and is thus selected to play in the Rose Bowl or another BCS game.

UCLA beats USC, dropping the Trojans to 5-4 in conference play. Washington loses one or both of its final two games (Colorado and Washington State) to finish no better than 5-4 in conference play.

The Wildcats, possessing the tiebreaker with both USC and Washington, are selected for a trip to El Paso.

 

Scenario(s) in which the 'Cats can land in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl:

Scenario No. 1: Everything in Sun Bowl Scenario No. 1 plays out with one exception: Washington wins out. The Wildcats, because of their win over USC, are selected ahead of the Trojans.

Scenario No. 2: Everything in Sun Bowl Scenario No. 1 plays out with one exception: USC beats UCLA. Oregon to the BCS National Championship game, Stanford to the Rose Bowl, Oregon State to the Alamo Bowl, USC to the Holiday Bowl, UCLA to the Sun Bowl and Arizona to Las Vegas.

Which bowl destination would you be most willing to travel to?

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Scenario No. 3: Arizona wins out. Oregon slips up against Stanford or Oregon State. USC loses to UCLA. Washington loses at least once.

Because of Oregon's loss, each Pac-12 team slides down one spot: Oregon or Stanford to the Rose Bowl, Oregon or Stanford to the Alamo Bowl, Oregon State to the Holiday Bowl, UCLA to the Sun Bowl and Arizona to the Las Vegas Bowl by virtue of knocking off USC and Washington head-to-head.

Scenario No. 4: Arizona wins out. Oregon to the BCS National Championship game. Stanford does not reach a BCS bowl game and an at-large is selected for the Rose Bowl. Washington and USC lose.

Stanford to the Alamo Bowl, Oregon State to the Holiday Bowl, UCLA to the Sun Bowl and Arizona to Vegas.

 

Scenario(s) in which the 'Cats can land in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl:

Scenario No. 1: Arizona wins out. Washington wins out. USC defeats UCLA. Oregon plays in the BCS National Championship game. Stanford plays in the Rose Bowl. Arizona, effectively finishing with the seventh best conference record, is selected for the Pac-12 No. 6 bowl game thanks to Oregon and Stanford.

Scenario No. 2: Arizona loses to Utah but knocks off Arizona State. Utah loses to Colorado. Oregon plays in the National Championship game and Stanford in the Rose Bowl or another BCS bowl. Again, the 'Cats finish seventh but bump to Pac-12 bowl No. 6.

Scenario No. 3: Arizona wins out. Oregon stumbles some time before the National Championship game. Washington and/or USC lose once. Only one Pac-12 team reaches a BCS bowl.

 

Scenario(s) in which the 'Cats can land in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl:

Scenario No. 1: Arizona wins out. Only one Pac-12 team reaches a BCS game. Washington wins out. USC defeats UCLA.

Scenario No. 2: Arizona loses to Utah but beats Arizona State. Utah, Washington and USC win out. Oregon to the National Championship and Stanford to the Rose Bowl.

Scenario No. 3: Arizona defeats Utah but loses to Arizona State. Washington and Oregon lose at least once. Only one Pac-12 team reaches a BCS bowl.

 

Scenario(s) in which the 'Cats fail to reach a Pac-12 tie-in bowl:

Scenario No. 1: Arizona loses out and Utah beats Colorado. Arizona finishes behind Utah and Arizona State.

Scenario No. 2: Arizona loses one of its final two games and finishes behind the team they lose to (Arizona State or Utah). Only one Pac-12 team reaches a BCS bowl game.

 

Note: Chances are, you can construct many other scenarios to place the 'Cats in certain bowl games ahead of others. Nonetheless, the scenarios above I deem to be the most conceivable for each respective bowl. (Feel free to disagree and explain why below).

Also bear in mind that, to add to the confusion, each bowl has its own selection process. Even if certain scenarios do play out, some bowls can select one team ahead of another within reason and within selection guidelines.

Lastly, factors such as travel distance and fan support regularly play a significant role in where certain teams are selected to play.

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