Best-Case, Worst-Case Bowl Scenarios for Every Pac-12 Team

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2013

Best-Case, Worst-Case Bowl Scenarios for Every Pac-12 Team

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    The 2013 bowl season is quickly approaching, and the Pac-12 Conference is full of teams fighting for an extra game.

    While top-ranked schools such as Stanford and Oregon are fighting for BCS bids, Arizona and Washington both earned the critical sixth win in their most recent games.

    As it stands, six programs have either six or seven wins, so the best- and worse-case scenarios for those squads are muddled with many of the same destinations. All together, the Pac-12 has seven bowl tie-ins, so the eight teams that have qualified for the postseason will allow the conference to fill its allotment plus some.

    Surprisingly enough, through 11 weeks of the season, only Cal is officially eliminated from bowl contention.

    Though the Pac-12 postseason picture is developing, there are still many different scenarios where a given team hits the jackpot...or misses completely.

Colorado Buffaloes

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    Best-Case Scenario: New Era Pinstripe Bowl

    Colorado is certainly good enough to take down a struggling Cal team, but shocking USC on Senior Day in Boulder, Colo. would be a remarkable win.

    Then, in the regular-season finale, the Buffaloes can upend Utah at home—though it is not something easily accomplished, just ask Stanford and Arizona State.

    And if Colorado manages to steal all three final contests, it would take over the Big 12's spot in this game, since the conference might not fill its seven tie-ins.

    But don't bet the house on this scenario happening.


    Worst-Case Scenario: No Bowl Game

    At 3-6, one more loss eliminates Colorado from postseason contention.

    The Buffaloes can definitely beat Cal, but USC will likely hand Colorado its seventh loss of the 2013 campaign.

    However, at this point, the Buffs could play the spoiler role against Utah on Nov. 30, keeping the Utes from earning their sixth win.

Utah Utes

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    Best-Case Scenario: New Era Pinstripe Bowl

    Utah is currently 4-5 on the season, but the Utes have two winnable games left on the schedule.

    To reach the postseason after losing to Oregon on Nov. 16, Utah needs to beat both Washington State and Colorado.

    Similar to Colorado's best-case scenario, the Utes will occupy the Big 12's voided spot in the Pinstripe Bowl and take on an American Athletic Conference team.


    Worst-Case Scenario: No Bowl Game

    Utah upset Stanford earlier this year, but Oregon will easily dismiss the Utes from Autzen Stadium.

    Washington State is also fighting for bowl eligibility, so Utah will be tested when it travels to face the Cougars.

    And since the Utes cannot afford another loss following Oregon, Utah would miss the postseason.

Washington State Cougars

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    Best-Case Scenario: New Era Pinstripe Bowl

    Seem rather repetitive yet? Well, you're not wrong.

    But this one would be impressive, since Washington State is 4-5, and the upcoming schedule holds Arizona, Utah and Washington, respectively.

    If the Cougars topple Utah and rival Washington, you guessed it, Wazzu earns a trip to New York.


    Worst-Case Scenario: No Bowl Game

    Washington State cannot contain Arizona's stud running back Ka'Deem Carey and drops its sixth game of the season.

    Soon after, Keith Price and the Huskies win the Apple Cup and extend the Cougars' 10-year postseason drought.

Arizona Wildcats

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    Best-Case Scenario: Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

    As mentioned earlier, there is a large amount of parity in the Pac-12, and Arizona is involved in that group.

    The Wildcats can peak at eight regular-season wins, defeating Washington State and surprising rival Arizona State on the road.

    Explosive running back Ka'Deem Carey makes Arizona a legitimate option for the Las Vegas Bowl selection committee to consider, since the bowl gets the No. 5 Pac-12 team.


    Worst-Case Scenario: Gildan New Mexico Bowl

    Arizona's expected finish to the season includes a victory over Washington State before losing to No. 6 Oregon and No. 19 Arizona State.

    The Wildcats would be 7-5 and safely above a six-win conference team below them.

    And since the New Mexico Bowl takes the last available or best remaining Pac-12 program, Arizona will be chosen to battle a Mountain West Conference team.

Washington Huskies

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    Best-Case Scenario: Hyundai Sun Bowl

    Washington surely had much higher expectations than a nine-win regular season, but that number is the highest the Huskies can attain.

    To achieve a 9-3 overall record with six conference wins, Washington must upset UCLA on Nov. 15 before defeating Oregon State and Washington State.

    And if the Huskies beat UCLA and Oregon State, Washington will be considered for the Pac-12's No. 4 destination—the Sun Bowl against the No. 4 from the ACC.


    Worst-Case Scenario: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

    On the other hand, Washington could collapse as the regular season comes to a close.

    The Huskies will hit the road for both the UCLA and Oregon State contests, and two of Washington's three losses have come away from Husky Stadium.

    Finally, after two deflating losses, Steve Sarkisian's team cannot rebound for a rivalry game against Washington State and drops three straight for the second time in 2013.

    Ultimately, Washington would be challenged by BYU on Dec. 30. in San Francisco, Calif.

Oregon State Beavers

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    Best-Case Scenario: Hyundai Sun Bowl

    Riding a six-game winning streak, Oregon State was finally getting national attention, but Stanford stole any glimpse of the spotlight away from the Beavers.

    Then, since Oregon State was smacked around by USC, Sean Mannion and Co. will be relegated to a lesser bowl.

    The Beavers have an opportunity to hand Arizona State its second conference loss, and a win over both the Sun Devils and Washington the next week would save Oregon State from sinking further down in the Pac-12 bowl selection order.


    Worst-Case Scenario: Gildan New Mexico Bowl

    Oregon State is currently 6-3, but Arizona State, Washington and Oregon are looking to keep the Beavers on icy water.

    Should Oregon State be unable to overcome any of those three teams, it will be headed on a crash course to the Pac-12's No. 7 bowl.

    And after a 6-1 start, the Beavers would be very disappointed with this result.

USC Trojans

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    Best-Case Scenario: Rose Bowl

    Six weeks ago, this scenario was a literal impossibility—you know, the dictionary's second definition of "literal."

    Since head coach Lane Kiffin was canned, interim head coach Ed Orgeron has directed a 4-1 turnaround that could, rather insanely, culminate in a North Division championship.

    The road is horribly difficult, considering USC must beat UCLA once, Stanford twice and have Arizona State lose twice to reach the Rose Bowl.

    It's still possible—just not very likely.


    Worst-Case Scenario: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

    Did I mention USC's schedule is horribly difficult?

    The Trojans host Stanford on Nov. 16 and await the annual rivalry tilt with UCLA on Nov. 30, so USC is likely on a path to an 8-5 regular-season finish.

    Colorado should not pose much of a threat, but the Trojans' 5-4 conference record and overall instability could relegate them to a meeting with BYU.

UCLA Bruins

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    Best-Case Scenario: Rose Bowl

    Unsurprisingly, UCLA was beaten by both Stanford and Oregon earlier this season.

    Otherwise, though, the Bruins have taken care of business in conference play, winning all four Pac-12 games, and still control their own destiny in the South Division.

    Despite being one loss behind Arizona State, UCLA would earn a spot in the Pac-12 title game with three consecutive wins over Washington, Arizona State and USC to end the regular season.

    The Bruins, similar to USC and ASU, would then receive a second chance at Stanford, and for UCLA, it would be the second straight year meeting the Cardinal during championship week.


    Worst-Case Scenario: National University Holiday Bowl

    If UCLA falls to Arizona State, the Bruins' slim BCS hopes would vanish completely.

    But since Brett Hundley, Anthony Barr and the rest of this talented team would have only lost to ranked opponents, the Bruins remain at the front of a selection committee's collective mind.

    Ultimately, either the Alamo or Holiday Bowls will happily select UCLA from the available Pac-12 teams.

Arizona State Sun Devils

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    Best-Case Scenario: Rose Bowl

    Right now, Arizona State is in control of the South Division. By beating Oregon State on Nov. 16 and UCLA on Nov. 23, the Sun Devils would clinch a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game, likely against Stanford.

    It would be a redemption game for ASU, as the Cardinal destroyed Taylor Kelly, Marion Grice and the Sun Devils' offense earlier this season.

    And if Arizona State unseats Stanford from its position of power in the Pac-12, the Sun Devils will head to their first Rose Bowl since the 1996 season.


    Worst-Case Scenario: National University Holiday Bowl

    However, if Arizona State comes up short against UCLA, the Sun Devils would fall behind Stanford, Oregon and the Bruins in the conference pecking order.

    The Holiday Bowl controls the second non-BCS Pac-12 selection, and an eight- or nine-win Arizona State squad would not be skipped over, meaning ASU matches up with the Big 12's No. 5 school.

    All the Sun Devils would need to accomplish is beating either Oregon State or Arizona, and they will still be a top Holiday Bowl option despite a fourth loss.

Oregon Ducks

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    Best-Case Scenario: Rose Bowl

    Oregon trails Stanford in the North Division, and barring an epic Stanford meltdown, the Ducks will remain behind the Cardinal in the standings.

    But it doesn't mean Oregon cannot jump into the Rose Bowl—which would be the Ducks' third Rose Bowl appearance in five seasons.

    For this to happen, however, Stanford would need to make a certain high-profile bowl game, and that will be discussed shortly.


    Worst-Case Scenario: Alamo Bowl

    The last time Oregon played in a non-BCS bowl was the 2008 Holiday Bowl, and that four-year streak likely will not end this season.

    But if the Ducks are upset by either Arizona or Oregon State and the South Division champion topples Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game, Oregon's bowl prospects would be scrambled.

    And so, as the Pac-12 champ earns an automatic Rose Bowl bid and Stanford gets selected as an at-large BCS team, the Ducks would take on the No. 3 Big 12 squad in San Antonio, Texas on Dec. 30.

Stanford Cardinal

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    Best-Case Scenario: BCS National Championship Game

    Stanford needs help to make college football's showcase. The No. 4 Cardinal are losses by two out of Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State away from playing in the most important game at the Rose Bowl.

    After holding Oregon to just 312 total yards of offense and winning 26-20, Stanford is in control of the Pac-12. Kevin Hogan and Co. will be favored to beat USC, Cal and Notre Dame, so the Cardinal are poised to finish the regular season 11-1.

    Then, Stanford will face a familiar opponent in the Pac-12 Championship Game—whether it is Arizona State, UCLA or USC—and can slide into the final BCS National Championship.

    With a little help from those aforementioned teams, of course.


    Worst-Case Scenario: Alamo Bowl

    Here's some bizarre news for you: the Cardinal could miss a BCS bowl entirely.

    If Oregon wins its final three games as expected, the Ducks will be hanging on Stanford's back, just waiting for the Cardinal to slip up.

    And should Stanford fall in the Pac-12 Championship Game, the South Division champion would head to the Rose Bowl, and Oregon could be chosen as an at-large team over the Cardinal.

    Since BCS rules stipulate only two teams from a respective conference can play in the headline games, the Alamo Bowl would definitely grab Stanford, as it owns the top non-BCS Pac-12 choice.