Nov 16, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Washington State Cougars wide receiver River Cracraft (84) tries to catch the ball under pressure from Arizona Wildcats safety William Parks (11) during the first quarter at Arizona Stadium. The Cougars beat the Wildcats 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
So the worst possible thing happened to Washington State’s bowl hopes when Arizona upset Oregon last week. Because of that upset, as of now the Cougs are the last of nine on the totem pole with a 6-5, 4-4 record. The Pac-12 Conference only holds seven bowl spots, or eight if Oregon somehow sneaks into a BCS at-large spot.
The saving grace is that not everyone around the country will fill their required spots, but so far 70 teams nationally have already reached bowl eligible status. 35 bowls, 70 teams eligible with two weeks (in some cases) to go, you can do the math. Chances are a few more teams will reach the plateau this week. Luckily, thanks to WSU taking out Utah and USC pounding Colorado, no more will come from the Pac-12.
The Cougars’ loss at home to Oregon State is a prime example of why taking care of home field is so utterly important in this conference (or in any conference really). In the same vein though, the three road wins are why the Cougs are even here in the first place, so we can’t complain too much.
Oct 5, 2013; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears coach Sonny Dykes (left) and Washington State Cougars coach Mike Leach shake hands after the game at Memorial Stadium. Washington State defeated California 44-22. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Wins over USC and Arizona, along with good showings at Auburn and Oregon should earn the Cougars a bowl berth somewhere, even though Mike Leach pointed out that he doesn’t think strength of schedule goes much into it. According to him, at the end of the day, the selection committee “does whatever the hell they want”. Actually, that might prove advantageous as well, more on that in a minute.
Regardless, this is going to be another nerve-wrecking week of watching football for the Cougar faithful. First up there’s the Apple Cup on Friday. Win and the possibility is there to jump as many as four spots (tied for 5th) by the end of Saturday’s action.
Necessarily, ASU would need to beat UofA, Oregon would need to beat OSU and USC would need to beat UCLA. We would hold tie-breakers with Arizona and Washington in head-to-head play and be tied with UCLA whom we never played. Lose and we can do no better than staying at the ninth spot, meaning we’d be hoping for an invite to an unfilled slot.
Here’s some of the early projections this week, likely assuming Washington wins the Apple Cup (the Huskies opened as 14.5 point favorites) and keeps Washington State in the ninth slot.
- SB Nation: Little Ceasar’s Pizza Bowl (Detroit) vs Northern Illinois
- Orlando Sentinel: Idaho Famous Potato Bowl (Boise) vs Bowling Green
- Ted Miller (ESPN): Gildan New Mexico Bowl (NM) vs MWC
- Phil Steele: Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas)
- Tampa Bay Times: No bowl invite
If WSU were to win and the rest of the conference holds serve as it should, WSU would find itself in either tied for 5th or in 6th place. More than likely that would put them in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, but if Oregon were to get an at-large BCS invite the Cougs could theoretically go as high as the Sun Bowl in El Paso or end up taking the slot to Las Vegas.
Dec. 17, 2011; Albuquerque, NM, USA; Detailed view of the New Mexico Bowl logo prior to the game between the Temple Owls against the Wyoming Cowboys at University Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
If there were another upset in the Arizona or Oregon rivalries (known to happen), the Cougs would end up as the 7th team, slotting them in the New Mexico Bowl. And god-forbid both the Wildcats and Beavers win, then it’s completely up in the air and the entire conference is messed up.
Basically what it boils down to for us is we need a win above all else. Praying for a spot is not the way I want to spend the next week plus and I’m positive that all Coug fans feel this way. I honestly don’t think we’ll be squeezed out if we were to lose, based on the allure of a Mike Leach team in say… Dallas or even in Boise.
Boise let’s Cougar fans travel easily, which would basically mean they get to make money on likely a full or near full crowd. Dallas let’s Leach fans travel easily (remember he gained an incredible fan base in the Dallas area at his time in Lubbock) which means… well, they get to make money because Cougar fans would travel pretty well down there as well. And some have said Detriot, although that’s becoming an unpopular opinion and makes zero sense from a purely business perspective.
If WSU loses, Dallas is the place I would want from a growth standpoint and it makes the most sense if there is a spot open. This falls into Leach’s “do whatever they want” category. The payout to Pac-12 would be $1.2 Million (don’t know where the projection came from but thanks for the assist CrimsonDisciple of Cougfan luxury suites), but more importantly the story-line is sublime for the Dallas area media and the extra recruiting opportunity is absolutely unbelievable for a guy (Leach) that is trying to steal some kids from the Texas schools.
Not that I particularly care where we end up. Just as long as we don’t get left out. Let’s beat the frickin’ Huskies and cement it!