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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

WSU bowl destination rest with outcome of Saturday’s Pac-12 title game

PULLMAN – The Washington State Cougars, like nine other Pac-12 teams, will watch the conference championship game from their homes. But while only Stanford and USC will compete for a Pac-12 crown in Santa Clara on Saturday, the game’s result will have just as much impact on WSU’s postseason destination as that of the participants.

So who should a discerning WSU fan root for? That depends on where they want to spend the holidays, if they’re traveling for the bowl game, that is.

The prevailing wisdom says that if Stanford wins, the Cougars are likely to end up in the Holiday Bowl, which is played in San Diego on Dec. 30 at 7:30 p.m. against a Big 10 team, most likely Wisconsin.

Should Stanford win, the Holiday Bowl would have the option of selecting either USC or WSU, because Oregon is almost certain to be selected by the Alamo Bowl (the Ducks beat both Stanford and USC in the regular season’s final three weeks and are the conference’s hottest team).

Bowls typically do not like to have teams visit in consecutive years, the thought being that a fan base is less likely to travel well to a location it visited the previous year. Because USC played in the Holiday Bowl last year, it is likely the bowl’s directors would prefer WSU, with a fan base that is expected to travel well to the program’s second bowl game since 2003.

Still, the Trojans have marquee players and obviously have a lot of alumni in the San Diego area, so WSU fans hoping for the Holiday Bowl should hope for a Stanford blowout just to take the sheen off USC’s recent success.

It’s a bit more difficult to pinpoint which bowl game would invite the Cougars should USC win on Saturday. That would send the Trojans to the Rose Bowl, Stanford to the Alamo Bowl and probably Oregon to the Holiday Bowl.

The Foster Farms Bowl gets the next selection and certainly could choose WSU, but UCLA would be attractive as well. Should that bowl pass on WSU, the Cougars would end up in either the Sun Bowl or the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. While the latter bowl would surely like to have Utah, setting up one final Holy War matchup with BYU before Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall heads to Virginia, the Sun Bowl gets to make its selection first.