There will be no fun in the South Florida sun for Trojan fans this January. Instead, it's possibly a smoke-filled room of crap tables in December.
Goodbye Miami Gardens, hello... Las Vegas?
Who would have thunk? Not USC fans.
What was supposed to be a BCS Championship season is now a 7-5 season. What was supposed to be a round trip to Florida is now an itinerary with these choices: El Paso, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, San Francisco or San Diego.
So where does USC go? We'll run down the possible bowl options and where USC will probably land among a total of eight Pac-12 teams who are bowl eligible.
The Rose Bowl is out (duh) because the Pac-12 champ (Stanford or UCLA) plays in the Rose Bowl. Oregon will also likely end up in the Fiesta Bowl.
The selection order of the bowls the Pac-12 has ties to then goes like this: Alamo, Holiday, Sun, Las Vegas, Kraft Fight Hunger and New Mexico.
The Alamo Bowl will probably pick the loser of the Pac-12 Championship since it is still a division champion and I have UCLA here. If the Bruins pull off the upset, then obviously Stanford goes here.
The Holiday Bowl should pick Oregon State since it has the best record among the five. Moreover, those Beaver fans will need hotel rooms so this is a huge bonus for the city of San Diego. But Oregon State doesn't have a huge fan base which means lower TV ratings. Do you pick Oregon State or do you pick USC to play [probably] West Virginia?
USC fans travel reasonably well and the team also has a huge national fan base. The downside to USC at the Holiday Bowl is that most Trojan fans won't need hotel rooms—San Diego is under a two-hour drive for most fans in the Los Angeles or Orange County area. Ticket sales aren't an issue because the schools have an allotment of tickets they are required to buy—the issue is which school would boost the local tourism industry. Oregon State gets a big nod here because the fans will make this bowl a four-day weekend getaway. Ka-ching.
All four remaining teams have a 7-5 record so who will get chosen for the Sun Bowl in El Paso?
I'm going to put USC right here. With a seating capacity of just over 50,000, this bowl should look filled on New Year's Eve. USC has played twice in the Sun Bowl—in 1990 vs Michigan State and in 1998 vs TCU—and is 0-2. Third time's the charm?
The Las Vegas Bowl would be the next choice for USC if the Sun Bowl chose Washington over USC and that could happen since Washington travels very well and may be a better option in terms of packing in more fans in El Paso.
Las Vegas is also close enough to L.A. (about a four-hour drive or one hour by plane) to give the casinos a nice weekend boost—Vegas is often a twice-a-year destination for many southern California residents anyway.
More tempting for USC is its opponent in the Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State. Last year Arizona State played Boise State and it appears unlikely that the Sun Devils would want another rematch so this bowl may be limited in its options. It's between Washington and USC so whichever team gets picked in the Sun Bowl leaves the other one here.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is in San Francisco and while the location is fantastic, I can't see USC going here and playing Navy. I can see a team like Arizona State, which has only played in one bowl in the last four years, being happy to play under first-year coach Todd Graham.
The New Mexico Bowl gets the final pick and I also don't think USC falls this far down the bowl ladder. Arizona looks like the best choice here.
So there you have it. USC will either go to the Sun Bowl or Las Vegas Bowl.
At least it won't be muggy.