Projected Bowl Selections:
No. 1: Rose Bowl—Oregon (Locked In)
No. 2: Holiday Bowl—USC
No. 3: Sun Bowl—Oregon State
No. 4: Emerald Bowl—Stanford
No. 5: Maaco Bowl—California
No. 6: Poinsettia Bowl—Arizona
No. 7: Little Caesars Pizza Bowl—UCLA
The Ducks are locked in to play the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl.
Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess, as there are five 8-4 teams, three of which tied for second in the conference.
With the Holiday Bowl being in San Diego, they’ll almost likely take an eligible USC. The Trojans live just 90 miles up the road, and with a matchup against the No. 3 Big XII selection—which I project to be Nebraska—the game is sure to be a “big” one despite the records.
Oregon State, the last team that had a chance to unseat Oregon, will likely get chosen next to play Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl. The Beavers went to El Paso last year, and even though they won a 3-0 stinker, they’ll likely get the return call.
That leaves the Emerald and Maaco Bowls with an interesting decision, as both Stanford and Cal are available. It’s a crap shoot who takes who, but I think Stanford gets the Emerald nod with Cal going to Vegas.
Why? Oddly, because of the same reason Oregon State returns to the Sun, only in the opposite direction. The Emerald had Cal last year, so they’ll go in a different direction to avoid having too many of the same teams in the same bowls.
Likewise, the Las Vegas Bowl had Arizona last season, so the Bears head to Sin City. Based on the rules, that leaves the Wildcats to head to the Poinsettia Bowl by default. They’d rather have Cal and would love UCLA, but neither can happen so they take Mike Stoops’ resurgent bunch.
As for UCLA, they’re in a tough spot. Because they turned down the Humanitarian invite years ago, the lesser bowls might shy away. But that invite was declined because of the bowl’s wacky rules, not because they didn’t want to play there.
Left with a choice between UCLA and a pair of Sun Belt teams, the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl will offer UCLA an invite…and the Bruins will accept, head to Detroit, and take on MAC Champion Central Michigan.