Pac-12 bowl projections: Oregon's rough road to the Rose, Utah to the Alamo

Utah Utes offensive lineman Bamidele Olaseni (77) and Utah Utes offensive lineman Nick Ford (55) lead the team walk out before the game at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.

Utah Utes offensive lineman Bamidele Olaseni (77) and Utah Utes offensive lineman Nick Ford (55) lead the team walk out before the game at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (Adam Fondren for the Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

Week 9 was one of the most successful of the season for the Pac-12 in one important regard: Three teams that faced challenging bowl math were victorious, as underdogs, and bolstered their postseason prospects.

Cal, Washington and Washington State aren't eligible just yet, and they have varying distances to cover. But their collective success — the Huskies and Cougars won as road underdogs — greatly enhances the likelihood of the conference meeting its seven contractual obligations.

Only Arizona has been eliminated, but Colorado is one loss away.

Cal and Stanford must win three of their last four, while Washington and USC need two more.

But there's more to our bowl projections below than numbers: Current performance and upcoming schedules are integral to the calculations, as well.

Rose Bowl (vs. Big Ten)

Team: Oregon (7-1/4-1)

Home games (two): Washington State, Oregon State

Road games (two): Washington, Utah

Comment: Conference record of the five teams the Ducks have played: 8-19. Conference record of the four teams the Ducks will play: 14-7. We don't see a sweep.

Alamo Bowl (vs. Big 12)

Team: Utah (5-3/4-1)

Home games (two): Oregon, Colorado

Road games (two): Stanford, Arizona

Comment: Utah's magic record for clinching the division is 7-2, thanks to ownership of all tiebreaker combinations with Arizona State, UCLA and USC.

Las Vegas Bowl (vs. Big Ten)

Team: UCLA (5-4/3-3)

Home games (two): Colorado, Cal

Road games (one): USC

Comment: Two wins might be enough for the Bruins to reach Las Vegas given the bowl's desire for a big-name opponent to match against the Big Ten.

Holiday Bowl (vs. ACC)

Team: Washington State (5-4/4-2)

Home games (one): Arizona

Road games (two): Oregon, Washington

Comment: Why the heck not? The Cougars have taken fate's best shots but are clearly immune to distractions.

Sun Bowl (vs. ACC)

Team: Oregon State (5-3/3-2)

Home games (two): Stanford, Arizona State

Road games (two): Colorado, Oregon

Comment: Reminder: Invitations for the Alamo, Las Vegas and Holiday bowl are not bound by conference record; but starting with the Sun, selections are based on the order of finish.

LA Bowl (vs. Mountain West)

Team: Washington (4-4/3-2)

Home games (three): Oregon, ASU, Washington State

Road games (one): Colorado

Comment: The Huskies should thank their lucky cross-division stars for a schedule that includes Colorado and Arizona.

ESPN Bowl (Gasparilla, First Responders, Armed Forces)

Team: Arizona State (5-3/3-2)

Home games (two): USC, Arizona

Road games (two): Washington, Oregon State

Comment: The way things are going, losing out is more likely than winning out. (Yeah, yeah, we know. But at least Arizona is showing some heart.)

At-large Bowl

Team: Cal (3-5/2-3)

Home games (one): USC

Road games (three): Arizona, Stanford, UCLA

Comment: At this very moment, the Bears are better than every team left on their schedule … Oops: It's now the next moment, and we have no idea what to think.

Non-qualifier

Team: Arizona (0-8/0-5)

Home games (two): Cal, Utah

Road games (two): Washington State, ASU

Comment: The game circled as Arizona's best chance to end the losing streak — Cal, this week — doesn't look nearly as circle-able.

Non-qualifier

Team: Colorado (2-6/1-4)

Home games (two): Oregon State, Washington

Road games (two): UCLA, Utah

Comment: All four remaining opponents have designs on a bowl berth or division title, or both. That gives CU ample opportunity to play the role of spoiler.

(News from the future: Colorado does not spoil.)

Non-qualifier

Team: Stanford (3-5/2-4)

Home games (three): Utah, Cal, Notre Dame

Road games (one): Oregon State

Comment: The way things are going, a three-win season is more likely than a three-win November.

Non-qualifier

Team: USC (4-4/3-3)

Home games (two): UCLA, Brigham Young

Road games (two): Arizona State, Cal

Comment: The Trojans must win three of four. They would have a much better chance to qualify if all four were on the road.


Jon Wilner's Pac-12 Hotline is brought to KSL.com through a partnership with the Bay Area News Group.


Jon Wilner has been covering college sports for decades and is an AP Top 25 football and basketball voter as well as a Heisman Trophy voter. He was named Beat Writer of the Year in 2013 by the Football Writers Association of America for his coverage of the Pac-12, won first place for feature writing in 2016 in the Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest and is a five-time APSE honoree. You can follow him on Twitter @WilnerHotline or send an email at jwilner@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Pac-12 Hotline: Subscribe to the Pac-12 Hotline Newsletter. Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.

Jon Wilner

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