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

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?


So, this was tweeted Friday morning. 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.


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