The 2016 season has ended with seven teams in the Pac-12 who are eligible for selection to a bowl game. In most seasons, the conference champion plays in the Rose Bowl, but this may not be the case this year as Washington may be picked for the College Football Playoff. What type of impact could this have on Stanford and where they go bowling?
How Are Teams Selected to Bowl Games?
The Pac-12 has agreements with seven bowls that range in order from the Rose Bowl with the to the Las Vegas Bowl with the last selection. Teams are ranked according to their conference record as opposed to their overall record. Bowls do not have to take the best remaining team on the board. However, the Bowls do have to choose from teams within one loss of the best remaining team on the board. For instance, if Stanford was the best team left when a bowl makes its choice, that bowl could choose Stanford or any team within one loss of the Cardinal. In many cases, a team may be selected because of geography or because their fans travel better than other available teams.
Which Game is Stanford Projected to Play In?
According to SBNation, the Sun bowl is where the Cardinal will play against Pittsburgh. However, they may also get an invite to the Foster Farms bowl if the Sun chooses another school. Other projections have the Cardinal going to the Holiday Bowl to play Iowa. Based on geography, the Foster Farms Bowl is likely the better fit, but a game against Iowa may be a better draw than a game against Indiana. Any projection assumes Washington is a playoff team, and it is possible that the Las Vegas or Cactus Bowl will get a Pac-12 team if they aren't.
Is There Any History to These Bowl Games?
The Holiday Bowl and the Sun Bowl have both been around for many decades with the 1994 Sun Bowl between Texas and North Carolina considered by some to be the best ever. The Foster Farms Bowl was created in 2002 as the NCAA expanded its postseason for television purposes. It has been known by several different names such as the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and the Emerald Bowl.
The good news for Stanford fans is that their team is going to a bowl game this year. While it will not be a New Year's Six game, there is a good chance that they get to stay close to home and play a beatable opponent. The several extra weeks of practice in addition to the game may also help the team gain some momentum for next year.