With a 27-17 loss in the Apple Cup, the Washington State Cougars dropped to 6-6 on the season and added a little more uncertainty to the their bowl situation. The Cougs are bowl eligible for the first time in 2006, but just like in that season, there are more teams qualified than spots available.
It seems unlikely that WSU AD Bill Moos would let WSU be left out of bowl season. However, the more spots available for Moos to chase, the better chances he has in landing a bid for Mike Leach's Cougs.
Friday's slate of games was nearly disastrous for Washington State. Four of the five teams needing a win to reach bowl eligibility got it, with only SMU failing to notch that sixth win. Unfortunately, the Mustangs still have one more shot next weekend against UCF.
The reason the day was only "nearly" disastrous was Oregon's comeback victory over the Oregon State Beavers. An OSU win would have put the Beavers at 7-5 with a marquee victory, making them an easier sell to bowl committees. A 6-6 OSU squad on a long losing streak is more likely to be passed over.
Had Oregon State won, the New Mexico Bowl may have come calling for the Beavers over the 6-6 Cougs. Luckily, the Ducks were able to pull through and maybe that can start a string of breaks for WSU heading into Saturday.
With that, here is a WSU fan's rooting guide and TV schedule for Saturday's action:
Connecticut (1-9) over Rutgers (5-5), 9 a.m. PST, ESPNU
The AAC has six bowl tie-ins with four bowl-eligible teams. SMU and Rutgers can still get wins to fill those spots. The Scarlet Knights losing to UConn is a longshot, but so was WSU getting to bowl eligibility, right?
**UPDATE: UConn Beats Rutgers, 28-17. Rutgers has one more shot at its sixth win next week against USF.**
Air Force (2-9) over Colorado State (6-6), 11 a.m. PST, ESPN3
The Mountain West has enough bowl-eligible teams to fill its six agreements, but this is a matter of eliminating at-large competitors (although one hopes that WSU is more attractive that CSU anyway).
**Update: Colorado State beats Air Force, 58-13, and becomes the 75th bowl-eligible team (there are 70 spots).**
Utah State (7-4) over Wyoming (5-6), 11 a.m. PST, ROOT Sports
Root against Wyoming for the same reason as CSU. The less at-larges, the better (but really, don't worry too much if they do win).
**Update: Utah State beats Wyoming, 35-7. Wyoming is officially home for the holidays.**
Georgia State (0-11) over South Alabama (4-6), 11 a.m. PST, ESPN3
Okay, this one doesn't really matter as the Sun Belt has more than filled its bowl spots. But who doesn't love a rooting interest?
**Update: South Alabama beats Georgia State, 38-17. South Alabama now needs to beat a good ULL team to get eligible.**
Boston College (7-4) over Syracuse (5-6), 12:30 p.m. PST, ESPN3
ACC has filled all its spots, but Syracuse is an actual at-large that may be interesting to bowls. Side note: Maryland has two conference wins and is bowl eligible. Man up and play nine league games, ACC.
**Update: Syracuse beats BC, 34-31. Syracuse becomes the 76th bowl eligible team, and is a formidable opponent for at-large bowl spots.**
UL Lafayette (8-2) over UL Monroe (5-6), 4 p.m. PST, ESPN3
Same situation as South Alabama. You know you wanted a side in this battle of schools that get confused for each other, anyway.
**Update: UL Monroe beats UL Lafayette, 31-28. UL Monroe becomes bowl-eligible team No. 77. That shoudn't have much impact on WSU's prospects.***
Arizona State (9-2) over Arizona (7-4), 6:30 p.m. PST, Pac-12 Networks
This is the most important game of the day for the same reason it was important that Oregon State lost to Oregon: It's all about the New Mexico Bowl. The Wildcats made the trip to Albuquerque last season, so they might not be the bowl's first choice, but an 8-4 Arizona coming off wins over Oregon and Arizona State will probably get the nod.
**Update: ASU beats Arizona, 58-2. That's a good thing for WSU.**
So there it is, WSU fans should root hard for UConn and Arizona State. Root kinda hard for Boston College. Take an interest in the rest, but don't stress too much about them, they probably won't matter.