The Pac-12 checks every box this season, with eight teams bowl eligible and the Huskies and USC battling it out for a College Football Playoff berth.
For the Pac-12, there are three storylines to watch for surrounding bowl season in 2017. It’s about participation, not process; hitting the sweet spot with quality and quantity:
- Will the conference secure a berth in the College Football Playoff for the third time in four years?
- How many teams will it send to the New Year’s Six (non-playoff) games?
- Will it meet all contractual obligations with bowl partners?
Two years ago, the Pac-12 sent a conference-record 10 teams into the postseason but was shut out of the playoff.
Last year, it had just six eligible teams but sent Washington to the semifinals.
The Hotline forecast for ’17: Every box gets checked.
The Pac-12 sends one team to the playoff, a second to the New Year’s Six and fills every bowl arrangement.
The following picks are based on these projected standings/records.
Rose: No team
The Pac-12 must produce a playoff participant and have that team seeded in Pasadena in order to fill one side of the Granddaddy pairing. The former will happen, but not the latter.
I’ve got the Huskies as the Pac-12 champion but seeded fourth, which would pair them with the No. 1 (Florida State) in New Orleans.
A loss to UW in the Pac-12 title game doesn’t eliminate the Trojans from the New Year’s Six. They’re sent to Phoenix as an at-large team — their first appearance in the event in more than three decades.
Ranked higher than UCLA and with more late-season momentum than Washington State, the Cardinal makes their first appearance in the Alamo.
Bowl officials not thrilled about inviting the Bruins (limited hotel bookings), but they want no part of WSU after the Cougars’ meltdown last year.
Foster Farms: Washington State
Cougars would be Santa Clara-bound under this scenario based on conference record: They couldn’t be leapfrogged by anyone on the second tier.
Starting with the Sun, teams are slotted according to conference record. I’ve got the Ducks, Colorado and ASU in a three-team jam at 4-5. El Paso bets on the Oregon faithful paying for one more game.
Las Vegas: Colorado
Easy choice for bowl officials to select a first-time participant whose fans would travel by air over a recent participant within a five-hour drive.
Cactus: Arizona State
Yes, Sun Devils were involved two years ago. But their bounce-back season would (some) generate hometown interest in the game.