December is practically here, meaning we are just a few days from finding out which teams are going where for bowl season. This post takes a look at just exactly where each team might end up.
Peach Bowl - Washington (vs Alabama)
It’s possible that Washington could slip out of the No. 4 spot in the College Football Playoff even with a win on Friday against Colorado (hello, Michigan), but the more likely scenario is that the Huskies take care of business and are awarded with a semifinal berth in the Peach Bowl. Alabama should make the playoff no matter what the result of its game against Florida on Saturday is, but we think the Crimson Tide roll and easily take the top seed.
Rose Bowl - USC (vs Wisconsin)
Assuming Colorado loses in the Pac-12 Championship Game, either the Buffaloes or USC will represent the conference in the Rose Bowl. The spot will go to the highest-ranked team, and while the race will be close, the 9-3 Trojans (who have the head-to-head tiebreaker) should edge out a 10-3 Colorado team.
Alamo Bowl - Colorado (vs Oklahoma State)
Not a bad landing spot for a team that was projected by most to finish last in the Pac-12 South. If the Buffaloes do indeed miss out on a New Year’s Six bowl, the Alamo is where they will land. Who they play there is still up in the air, but Oklahoma State seems like the most likely option (with Oklahoma and West Virginia also in the conversation).
Holiday Bowl - Washington State (vs Minnesota)
Stanford may be ranked 18th (as opposed to unranked Washington State), but the Cougars are the much more attractive option. Expect the Holiday to pass on the Cardinal and take Washington State and its large fanbase.
Foster Farms Bowl - Stanford (vs Northwestern)
The Foster Farms will be happy to grab the hometown Cardinal if they are still here. Their opponent will likely be a 6-6 Northwestern team, setting up a rematch after the Wildcats upset Stanford in Evanston a year ago.
Sun Bowl - Utah (vs Pittsburgh)
Starting here, the bowls select in order of conference finish. That means Utah is headed to El Paso, a good fit as the Utes haven’t played in this game since 2011. Meeting them in Texas will either be Pittsburgh or Georgia Tech, but seeing as the Yellow Jackets and Utes met in that 2011 game, the committee is more likely to take the Panthers.
The Curious Case of Arizona State
Despite finishing at 5-7, the Arizona State Sun Devils still have an outside shot at being invited to a bowl game. Whether a team that has lost six straight games would want to accept that invite remains to be seen, but there is still a chance that their season continues.
There are currently 76 bowl eligible teams (with 80 spots needing to be filled), and that number could rise to as high as 78 after Saturday depending on whether or not South Alabama and Louisiana–Lafayette win their respective games. That means there could be anywhere from two to four 5-7 teams needed to fill all 80 slots.
The tiebreaker for invitations to 5-7 teams comes down to APR scores, where Arizona State sits at sixth or seventh (depending on Saturday’s results) on the list of teams with five wins. That means Todd Graham’s team will need at least two (and possibly as many as four) teams to decline invitations in order for the Sun Devils to make a bowl. Those teams, in order, are North Texas, Mississippi State, Texas, Northern Illinois, Louisiana-Monroe (needs to beat ULL in order to get on this list) and California.
If they are indeed invited to their sixth straight postseason contest, that invitation might not be received until December 10. That is because the higher-selecting bowl games likely won’t get to fill out their matchups until after the Army-Navy game is played a week from Saturday, and because 5-7 teams are the last ones placed in whichever bowl needs them, they cannot be invited until the top bowls select first.
If that invitation does come, Arizona State could be sent to one of many different locales across the country. At the moment, however, it appears that either the Heart of Dallas or Armed Forces Bowl would be the most likely landing spots, seeing as both the Big Ten and Big 12 will not have enough eligible teams to send to those games.
With both of those games being played in the greater Dallas area, the fit is also a logical one for head coach Todd Graham, who has plenty of ties to the state of Texas.