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WSU Football: bowl situation update

Lots of speculation going on over where the Cougars will be headed for a bowl game, or if they'll be bowling at all. Jerry Palm's updated bowl projections have WSU staying home for the Holidays, while Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards' pre-Apple Cup projections have the Cougars playing in the Poinsettia Bowl and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, respectively.

Syracuse won today and became bowl-eligible, which hurt the Cougars, but North Carolina losing helped. After the jump we'll take a look at some of WSU's most likely destinations.


New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec., 21, 9 a.m., ESPN

The New Mexico Bowl picks seventh out of the Pac-12's bowl affiliated teams, and it will have quite a choice on its hands with Oregon State, Washington State and Arizona all vying for a spot.

Why WSU will be invited:

Arizona played in the New Mexico Bowl last season, winning a wild 49-48 game over Nevada. Bowls typically seem to want new blood, and the prospect of inviting a fan base that has been waiting 10 years to travel to a bowl game is certainly enticing for the bowl directors. Oregon State is a long shot, having dropped its last five games. While the Beavers showed that they could still be competitive against Oregon in the Civil War, bowl directors know that a snoozer like OSU's 69-27 loss to UW two weeks ago will have viewers at home changing channels in a hurry.

Why WSU will not be invited:

If Arizona beats Arizona State they're almost a lock to push WSU out of this game, having beaten two of the conference's best teams since losing to the Cougars two weeks ago. A Wildcats win would also give them a 5-4 conference record, compared with WSU and OSU's 4-5 records in Pac-12 play. Oregon State has struggled lately, but still features some nationally known players in Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks.

Heart of Dallas Bowl, Dallas, T.X., Jan. 1, 9 a.m., ESPNU

With Auburn knocking off No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, the Big Ten could send Ohio State to the BCS championship game and Michigan State to the Rose Bowl. If that were to happen, the Heart of Dallas bowl would need to find an at-large team to fill its spot. The Big Ten already has an extra slot available since Penn State is ineligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions.

Why WSU will be invited:

Bringing coach Mike Leach back to the state of Texas is attractive to the administrators of the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Apart from increased TV interest, WSU athletic director Bill Moos says he expects as many as 2,000 Texas Tech fans to travel to a bowl in or near Texas to support their former coach.

Why WSU will not be invited:

The Heart of Dallas will have plenty of choices in a year with so many bowl eligible teams. Seven-win teams like Maryland and Georgia Tech, or even Oregon State could be attractive to the bowl directors.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, New York City, N.Y., Dec. 28, 9 a.m., ESPN

The Big 12 won't be able to fill it's bowl slots this season, meaning the Cougars could be spending Christmas in New York.

Why WSU will be invited:

This is a bowl that athletic director Bill Moos would likely fight hard to secure, as its $1.8 million payout is quite a bit higher than most bowls WSU will have a shot at. If Cougars fan are going to have to travel far for the bowl game, NYC at New Year's could be pretty appealing. 

Why WSU won't be invited:

Lots of teams will be after this one, and Moos could be going up against schools like Notre Dame for a bid. Convincing fans to pay for last-minute travel to NYC during holiday season might be too much to ask, and you can't get much further from Leach's fans in Texas.

Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, St. Petersburg, F.L., Dec. 23, 11 a.m., ESPN

The sixth bid for the American Athletic Conference will need an at-large team to fill the conference's slot.

Why WSU will be invited:

The Cougars are trying to make inroads in the Sunshine State, and what better way than by having the whole team spend a week. With four players from Florida on the roster, the Cougars have secured a pair of verbal commitments for next year's class from Florida prospects including quarterback Peyton Bender and running back Keith Harrington. Leach lived in Key West before taking the WSU job and would likely welcome the chance to play in St. Petersburg.

Why WSU will not be invited:

WSU won't have many regional ties to the area in terms of alumni and could get passed over in favor of a smaller school with a nearer academic footprint.

Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego, C.A., Dec. 26, 6:30 p.m., ESPN

With Army sitting at 3-8, the Poinsettia Bowl will be taking an at-large team.

Why WSU will get invited:

A west coast team like WSU would be attractive to the Poinsettia Bowl, and the fans would likely travel well to the game. Southern California is another place where additional exposure could be valuable for the Cougars.

Why WSU will not get invited:

The Poinsettia Bowl would have to pick the Cougars over teams like Ohio (7-5) or Buffalo (8-4) that have more wins.



Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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