September 7, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington State Cougars wide receiver River Cracraft (84) misses catching a pass against the Southern California Trojans during the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
At ACU we talk all the time about different scenarios that will help and/or hurt the Cougars and we have some interesting conversations. This week’s situation led me to talking with Caleb about the different things that could play out in the next two weeks that would help the Cougars make a bowl.
First of all, this week is no gimme. The Cougars should win the football game, I think there’s little doubt about that. At home, against a team that struggles mightily on the road, has lost to both USC and Arizona (both of whom the Cougs beat), with a backup quarterback…
Honestly a single point on the favored board is a diss all by itself, but the Cougs will have to prove it. In the end all that favored stuff doesn’t matter but the rest of it does. I’ve hated this match up all season long from the standpoint that Wilson was supposed to give them a major edge in my opinion.
Nov 9, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson (7) chased down the field by Arizona State Sun Devils defensive tackle Will Sutton (90) during the first quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
As we know, Wilson’s not around, so my opinions on this game have changed dramatically (we’ll probably discuss further in the next couple days on this point). Either way, we see this as a near-must-win! The way the game stacks up for WSU just gives too much advantage to WSU to lose it and a win unequivicolly shows just how far the Cougs have come in a year from that 49-6 drubbing from Utah last year. That could be huge for the bowl selection committee, regardless of the Apple Cup outcome.
Worse though, a loss to Utah and then a Utah W over Colorado the week after bumps them over WSU, again regardless of the Apple Cup. That particular scenario is the worst possible scenario for WSU’s bowl hopes.
On CF.C, Nick Daschel wrote a very interesting article on the bowl prospectus of WSU and the Pac-12 in general. Looking back at the bowl projections list from Pac-12.com one more time, we see that nine of twelve teams have been tabbed to make a bowl by either ESPN, CBS, SI or CFB News/Scout. Shockingly, both Utah and Arizona make the list somehow, while Washington State is snubbed from consideration. But again, that means little as of Saturday at about 5 pst, cause we’ll know.
Three points I’d like to make on this information (assuming WSU wins at least one of the remaining two and ends up tied with teams at six wins for a bowl).
First, only seven teams in our conference are guaranteed a bowl bid. Daschel points out beautifully that the Big Ten and Big-12 could leave a spot for an “at-large bid” that could potentially go to a 6-win Pac-12 team.
Nov 16, 2013; Champaign, IL, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes players sing the alma mater after defeating the Illinois Fighting Illini 60-35 at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports
My assumption is that it becomes possible if Ohio State or Baylor somehow end up in the BCS Championship,
- A: bumping the second team in either conference to fill the BCS obligation and leaving the lowest-tier bowl open for “at-large” or
- B: leaving the door open for Stanford to somehow snatch back that BCS spot as an “at-large” if the second team in that respective conference doesn’t qualify.
Both scenarios are super-long shots because of Florida State, but injury or an FSU slip-up in the ACC Championship opens that door wide.
Secondly, WSU has to leapfrog three teams (according to the projections) to get that seventh spot. Scenarios include:
- Win against Utah this week and the Utes are eliminated.
- We can assume that Arizona loses to Oregon and probably to ASU. With a recent win against Zona and the Cats on a 4-game losing streak the Cats become expendable from a bowl pretty easily.
- If UW beats OSU Saturday night and we assume OSU then loses to Oregon, I have to believe that a loss to EWU, 5 consecutive losses and the most impressive win on the season being against WSU keeps the Beavs a notch below WSU from a bowl invite standpoint (even though they beat WSU). After all the Cougs will have won 2 of 3 (once again under the assumption they win one more game) and would then be the hotter team with impressive wins at Arizona and USC and a great showing at Auburn.
- If OSU beats UW, the Cougs really need to beat UW one way or the other. The best hope then would be to jump both the Huskies and Arizona and leave them stewing at home for the Holidays.
- Win both games remaining and the Cougs are in for sure. Heck, they could knock the Huskies out of a bowl if both are 6-6 going into the Apple Cup… how sweet would that be! They could also potentially knock us out in that scenario so if that were to happen would be very bitter.
Lastly, once again in my opinion a win this week against Utah puts Washington State into a bowl regardless of the Apple Cup, but it’s far from a guarantee. Arizona is going to get whacked twice more and should definitely be bumped, Utah would be whacked of course so that puts the Pac at eight teams. I have to believe a Mike Leach team with a great show at Auburn, a win at USC and at Arizona and a win over Utah gets them an invite somewhere.
All of that said, win two and we’re in… but how big is that 4th quarter collapse against OSU right now? Good grief!
Let us know your opinions in the comments! This is tough!
*editor’s note: Mark Wasemiller has informed me on facebook that CBS did indeed put the Cougs into the Little Ceaser’s Pizza Bowl. Kinda plays into my no respect theory as Pac-12.com failed to notice that particular projection… but at least CBS restored my faith in somebody. Ha!