The No. 20 Washington State Cougars are 8-3 heading into the Apple Cup. Raise your hand if you saw all of that coming seven weeks ago. Put your hand down, liar.
Stanford will take a jump up in the CFP rankings this week with their win over Cal last night so a win over Notre Dame next week plus a Pac-12 championship combined with a couple of other teams above them stumbling puts Stanford right back into the conversation for the playoff. I'll grant you that's unlikely but the possibility still exists anyway. As it turns out, yesterday worked out pretty well for Washington State and their hopes to get to a better bowl game. For your reference, here are the auto-bids again:
#1 Pick: Rose Bowl vs. Big Ten (Pasadena, CA)
#2 Pick: Alamo Bowl vs. Big 12 (San Antonio, TX)
#3 Pick: Holiday Bowl vs. Big Ten (San Diego, CA)
#4 Pick: Foster Farms Bowl vs. Big Ten (Santa Clara, CA)
#5 Pick: Sun Bowl vs. ACC (El Paso, TX)
#6 Pick: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Mountain West (Las Vegas, NV)
#7 Pick Cactus Bowl vs. Big 12 (Phoenix, AZ)
And here are the Pac-12 standings:
1. Stanford (8-1 conference, 9-2 overall)
2. Washington State (6-2 conference, 8-3 overall)
3. Oregon (6-2 conference, 8-3 overall)
4. California (3-5 conference, 6-5 overall)
5. Washington (3-5 conference, 5-6 overall)
6. Oregon State (0-8 conference, 2-9 overall)
1. UCLA (5-3 conference, 8-3 overall)
2. Utah (5-3 conference, 8-3 overall)
3. USC (5-3 conference, 7-4 overall)
4. Arizona State (4-4 conference, 6-5 overall)
5. Arizona (3-6 conference, 6-6 overall)
6. Colorado (1-7 conference, 4-8 overall)
If you actually stacked things without divisions, as you do when you're considering bowls, Washington State is actually tied for the second spot in the conference. The trouble is, as Jeff explored last week, bowls don't necessarily have to take the team slotted to them. They can reached down and grab a team they'd be happier with and with either UCLA or USC going 6-3 next week plus Utah likely getting there as well, WSU would do well to keep themselves in line with Oregon at 7-2 in conference play once the season ends. Lets get to the projections.
SB Nation: Sun Bowl, Dec. 26th, 11 a.m. on CBS
The mothership still favors an appearance in El Paso the day after Christmas which is definitely within the realm of possibility even with a WSU win this week against Washington. Jason Kirk and the gang expect WSU to see another land grant institution, North Carolina State, in their visit to west Texas. Like, really, really west Texas.
CBS: Foster Farms Bowl, Dec. 26th, 6:15 p.m. on ESPN
Jerry Palm makes a departure from his last couple weeks of WSU predictions, moving the Cougs up a slot into a Boxing Day appearance in Santa Clara. Palm sets the Cougs up for their second game against a Big Ten team this year, predicting Washington State will see the Indiana Hoosiers on the
mud pit concrete astroturf field at Levi's Stadium.
ESPN: Foster Farms and Sun Bowl
ESPN stays consistent from last week, with Mark Schlabach and Brett McMurphy slotting the Cougs for the Foster Farms and Sun Bowl respectively. Schlabach thinks the Cougs will see Indiana in Santa Clara while McMurphy thinks the Cougs will run into the U. No, the real U, the one from Miami. Miami. He thinks they'll play Miami. I could've just said that.
A brief word about the Alamo Bowl reps at five straight WSU games. While that's certainly encouraging and something we should be very, very proud of, I'm not sure how much I'd read into it. Bowl reps attend a lot of games involving teams from their affiliated conferences so their appearances aren't terribly uncommon for teams who were sitting at six wins a few weeks ago.
If the Cougs do end up in the Sun Bowl though, I'll take that as a good omen. Last time the Cougs were there was 2001. Can someone remind me what happened the following season?