PULLMAN – It’s never fun in sports to be the last one picked, but that’s what Washington State is hoping for when it comes to Pac-12 bowl selections.
Athletic director Bill Moos is honed in on the New Mexico Bowl, which makes the final selection of the seven bowl games affiliated with the Pac-12 Conference.
The Cougars are tied with Oregon State and Arizona for seventh in the conference and all three teams are vying for that final spot. It’s no sure thing that the Cougars will need to settle, however.
The winner of today’s Pac-12 championship game will play in the Rose Bowl. If Oregon is also selected to play in a BCS game, then every team will move up a rung on the conference ladder. That would mean WSU has a shot to face Brigham Young in San Francisco’s Fight Hunger Bowl, the sixth Pac-12 bowl to make a selection.
“So much is contingent on what happens Saturday, where the openings are and the Notre Dame piece, where they’re going to go,” Moos said. “So we realize that there might be a chance for San Francisco if Oregon goes and plays in the BCS. But that may be a long shot so probably the contracted bowl that we have a chance at is the New Mexico Bowl.”
There is also the potential for the Fight Hunger Bowl to pass over Washington, which finished sixth in the conference, and take one of the three teams tied for seventh. As of now that appears unlikely, however.
“If everybody picks the way they’re expected to pick, we would be looking at Washington, Washington State and Arizona,” said Gary Cavalli, executive director of the Fight Hunger Bowl. “Since Washington beat both of those teams and finished ahead of them in the standings, that gives them a big leg up.”
Cavalli expressed that it is unlikely the Fight Hunger Bowl will have any interest in OSU, despite the Beavers’ conference standing that is similar to Washington State and Arizona. A five-game losing streak to end the season may doom OSU’s chances at a Pac-12 affiliated bowl, or of even playing a bowl game altogether.
Another scenario that could play out for the Cougars is that UO does not play in a BCS bowl, and the New Mexico Bowl selects Arizona due to the school’s proximity, better overall records and marquee player in running back Ka’Deem Carey, the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year.
In this case WSU would need to secure an at-large bid from a bowl that’s affiliated conference is unable to fill the slot. The Heart of Dallas Bowl, the Independence Bowl and the Texas Bowl are commonly cited potential destinations.