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Las Vegas Bowl making moves: Pac-12 will now face Power 5 team

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Starting in 2020, the opponent will no longer come from the Mountain West. Is this the beginning of the bowl’s ascension?

Las Vegas Bowl - Boise State v Oregon Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Despite its desirable location, the Las Vegas Bowl has long languished at or near the bottom of the Pac-12 bowl pecking order, thanks to the opponent (Mountain West Conference), date (shortly after the season ends), and venue (UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium). The Pac-12 currently sends its sixth selection to Sin City.

That’s likely about to change, per a report from former ESPN college football reporter Brett McMurphy. He says the bowl is going to dump the Mountain West Conference from the game in 2020 which (probably not so coincidentally) is the year the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders’ shiny new $1.9 billion stadium opens.

Who will replace the MWC? A Power 5 conference, of course.

“Every Power 5 conference wants in this game because of the new stadium and location,” a source told McMurphy.

He goes on to say:

A Pac-12 vs. SEC matchup would be the most intriguing and some sources consider the SEC the favorite to ultimately face the Pac-12 in the Vegas Bowl starting in 2020.

The Pac-12 currently plays bowl games against each of the Power 5 conferences, except for the SEC. The two conferences have played in only nine non-College Football Playoff/New Year’s 6 bowls. The last Pac-12 vs. SEC matchup in a non-CFB Playoff/New Year’s 6 bowl was 29 years ago in the 1989 Freedom Bowl.

Well then.

This all makes it pretty obvious that the Las Vegas Bowl will not be the Pac-12’s No. 6 bowl when 2020 rolls around, which means it almost certainly will move to a later date. McMurphy speculates it will be after Christmas.

How high could it go? I’d bet it slots in at No. 3 behind the Alamo Bowl, given that the Holiday Bowl has been on the decline for years, bumping each of the other bowls down a peg. Which, honestly, seems about right for each of them — Holiday Bowl (4), Foster Farms Bowl (5), Sun Bowl (6), and Cactus Bowl (7).

This all is fantastic news for Washington State Cougars fans who annually beg for a nonconference matchup with UNLV and dream of the idea of following their team to Vegas for a bowl game.

The question is, though: Could Vegas actually handle WSU fans descending on their city? We already know the airlines can’t quite deal with it.

Better question: Which WSU/SEC combo is most likely to drink Vegas dry? It’s gotta be LSU or Ole Miss, right?

Recruiting

So, this was tweeted Friday morning. 247sports.com lists him as a long snapper. WSU recently put long snapper Kyle Celli on scholarship, but he’s a senior. This would be for 2019, and it would be unusual to give a true freshman long snapper a scholarship. Make of this whatever you will.

Links

Washington State women's basketball coach Kamie Ethridge breaks down recruiting numbers and more - Cougfan.com
She's holding roster pat at 11, meaning 6 scholies available in 2019 cycle

Washington State football recruiting blog: News and nuggets galore - Cougfan.com
Notes galore, including news of new WSU offer to LB who left Zimbabwe refugee camp two years ago

Washington State Football: 2018 Cougars Preview and Prediction
Bowl eligibility is still a very realistic goal, but don't expect this team to be a factor in the North Division race.

Pac-12 stock report: Utah's AD hire, Mike Hopkins' cool gesture and more
As the Hotline types this stock report, the Cougars are presenting their plans to balance the budget to the university’s Board of Regents. I wonder if the regents will manage to collectively keep a straight face.

Washington State professor was heavily involved in recent MLB home run study | The Spokesman-Review
A mechanical and materials engineering professor, Lloyd Smith is more renowned for the work he does as director of WSU’s Sports Science Laboratory, a Pullman-based shop that’s become the epicenter for ball and bat certification in amateur baseball and softball.