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ASU Football: Projecting the nine Pac-12 bowl participants

Locked and loaded for the postseason

UCLA v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Two more Pac-12 teams punched their tickets to bowl eligibility this weekend and two more will do so next week, as the picture is finally clear. With 70 teams already eligible and 18 more with a shot around the nation, there will likely be some 6-6 teams left out in the cold.

For now, though, we take a look at who we think will be taking trips to the Pac-12 contracted games compared with Jason Kirk of SB Nation.com:

*Note: California, UCLA, Colorado are Utah all carry 5-6 records. Cal plays UCLA and Colorado plays Utah, meaning two of those four teams will be bowl eligible. There are seven current bowl eligible Pac-12 teams. There will be nine following the end of the regular season.

Bowl Projections

Bowl Game Jason Kirk Matthew Tonis
Bowl Game Jason Kirk Matthew Tonis
New Year's 6 USC USC
Alamo Bowl Washington Washington State
Holiday Bowl Washington State Washington
Foster Farms Bowl Stanford Stanford
Sun Bowl Arizona Oregon
Las Vegas Bowl Oregon Utah
Cactus Bowl Utah Arizona

Kirk and I feel fairly similarly about the conference landscape, with one major exception. I’m more bullish about Arizona State winning the Territorial Cup, putting the Sun Devils, the Oregon Ducks and the Arizona Wildcats all at 7-5.

But that doesn’t guarantee those teams conference bowl games. In 2014, ASU fell three slots below where it should have been because games saw more lucrative opportunities elsewhere. I see the same thing happening this year, with the Sun Bowl taking a high-profile and under-performing Oregon team, the Las Vegas Bowl taking the Pac-12 program with the most appearances in Utah and the Cactus taking ASU’s downstate rival instead of inviting the Sun Devils back for a second time in three seasons.

That being said, a 6-6 UCLA could also warrant consideration from any game this far down the list by virtue of having, by far, the biggest star of the available teams in junior quarterback Josh Rosen. Combine that with the pure size of the fanbase and a short drive from Westwood to Las Vegas or Phoenix and we could see both Arizona schools head outside the conference.

For the two teams left out, I see them heading to one of the bowls at the bottom of the ACC contracts, such as the Independence Bowl or the Quick Lane Bowl, or a spot for the American Athletic Conference, like the Cure Bowl or the Boca Raton Bowl. All four of these spots are going to be vacated by top teams going to the New Year’s 6, leaving space.