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PAC 12 Bowl Projections: Where will Stanford and the PAC-12 Conference land?

Stanford and PAC-12 Conference Predictions

It is that time of year when schools begin to jockey for position on where each team will land in the postseason as the Stanford Football Program and the PAC-12 schools anxiously awaits where they might land this year.

First, here is what everyone needs to know to gain a better understanding of the Bowl season and where teams might go:

1. The first item to realize is that the seeding charts given out for Bowl games is merely a “guide” as it is up to the Bowl organizers and committees to decide who goes where and why. For an example, UCLA went to the Foster Farms Bowl last year and finished 6th, while the Utes of Utah finished 3rd and went to the Las Vegas Bowl. If the committees went by the guide, the Utes should have been at a minimum in the Foster Farms game. However, due to the committees, they were leap frogged by a team with a lesser record.

2. A lot of where the final Bowl decisions will be determined after the PAC-12 Championship on Friday evening at Levi’s Stadium. If Washington wins, convincingly, the Huskies should have enough on their resume with wins over Stanford, and Washington State, as well as winning the PAC-12, to get them into the 4-team College Football Playoff.

3. However, here is where things can go haywire in a heartbeat. The CFP committee can say that the Huskies lack of competition out of conference, and recent play may keep them out of the playoffs, and put another school in. Right now, several are saying that Ohio State’s tough schedule and lone loss to a top 10 team on the road, as well as if Wisconsin wins the Big 10 title game may be enough to vault both programs over Washington due to the lack of quality opponents. Can this happen? Surely we remember when Texas was vaulted over Cal during the 2004-05 BCS era due to committee voting by the AP.

The key to remember: It is all up to the voters on the committees at this point in the season.

Now that the scenarios are explained, here are likely scenario options for the Stanford Cardinal and the rest of the PAC 12 on where they will land for their Bowl games.

If Washington wins, and becomes PAC-12 Champions, there should be enough on their resume to garner a berth in the College Football Playoffs. This will lead to the games as follows:

College Football Playoffs: Washington Huskies – Washington has had a stellar year, and only lost to arguably the hottest team in the country, the USC Trojans, in a hard fought battle. The Huskies are solid on both sides of the ball and Head Coach Chris Petersen has steadily rebuilt the program in the Pacific Northwest.

Rose Bowl: USC Trojans - The Trojans are so hot right now, that Dan Patrick would say they are “en fuego”. USC has rebounded from a terrible start to run roughshod over the competition, and have risen to a top 10 ranking for the first time all season. With their current streak, following and victory over Colorado; look for the Rose committee to extend an invitation to the men of Troy.

Alamo Bowl: Colorado Buffaloes – The Buffs had a renaissance this year under Coach MacIntyre and their first berth in the PAC 12 title game. The Buffs have played well against stiff competition, but the head-to-head loss to the Trojans will drop them to the Alamo Bowl.

Holiday Bowl: Stanford Cardinal – The Cardinal will more than likely end up here for three main reasons: CFP rankings, strength of schedule and Christian McCaffrey. The Cardinal do not have the biggest traveling circus, but when you can promote the game with a ranked team and a candidate for the Heisman Trophy; look for the committee to overlook the fact that they lost to the Washington State Cougars and finished with a better record overall. The Cardinal are hot, and decisive winners in their last 5 games.

Foster Farms Bowl: Washington State Cougars – The Cougs had arguably one of their best seasons in years, but faltered down the stretch with losing their last two games. Also, the Cougs lost one of their best players, River Cracraft, to injury, and have not played well since his absence from the lineup. The Cougars deserve better after their hot start to the season, and strong play in conference, but will more than likely be dealt the same fate as the Utes last year and be leap frogged by another team.

Sun Bowl: Utah Utes – The Utes had an up and down season all year, and ended on a low note losing 3 of their last 4 games. The Utes should be in line for a step up in Bowl competition this year however, and will more than likely with this scenario be heading to El Paso.

Now if Washington loses in the PAC 12 title game, here are the likely landing places for the PAC 12:

Rose Bowl: Colorado

Alamo Bowl: USC

Holiday Bowl: Washington

Foster Farms Bowl: Stanford

Sun Bowl: Washington State

Las Vegas Bowl: Utah

Reason: Colorado will leap into the Rose Bowl as conference champions, USC will go to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl, and Washington should go to the Holiday Bowl due to the “head-to-head” loss with USC. Stanford, WSU, and Utah will all drop down a Bowl due to the Huskies loss.

Now here is where it all gets tricky.

If Washington wins, yet is leap frogged in the final CFP polls, which can very well happen, here is where the bowl scenarios will change and likely new landing spots:

Rose Bowl: Washington

Alamo Bowl: USC

Holiday Bowl: Colorado

Foster Farms Bowl: Stanford

Sun Bowl: Washington State

Las Vegas Bowl: Utah

Reason: If Washington wins, at a minimum, they are guaranteed the Rose Bowl Game as conference champions. USC will still be in the Alamo Bowl as they leap frog Colorado due to head-to-head match-up and rankings. The rest of the PAC 12 should follow suit.

Now, many will ask, do the California Golden Bears have a shot at an “at-large” bid for a Bowl game, even though they finished 5-7? The Bears did have wins over Texas and Utah, but losing 5 of their last 7 games will surely hurt. Last year there were three teams with 5-7 records in the postseason, and all played well. Do not be shocked if Cal gets an “at-large” berth this year to something like the Cactus Bowl in Arizona.

Also the question may arise if Stanford can get the shaft, and be sent to a lesser bowl because of record or lack of huge fan base? This surely can happen. All postseason match-ups will first be in the hands of the CFP committee, then the bowl committees after this weekend.

Fans of the Stanford Cardinal should know that nothing is for certain when it comes to the polls, and to expect the un-expected.

The good news is that the Cardinal, after struggling mid-year due to injuries and poor play, still ended with a solid record and national ranking. Let’s all hope for the best, and be proud that the Cardinal are in the postseason again and keeps their streak going for the past 8 seasons.