Pac-12 bowl projections: Oregon to the CFP, Utah to the Alamo, Arizona jumps to Las Vegas and USC fades

Undefeated Washington remains on track for a New Year’s Six berth

Before we get into the latest Pac-12 bowl forecast, here are some helpful reminders about the postseason selection process:

— The College Football Playoff semifinals will be held in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, leaving the Pac-12 champion to compete in the Fiesta, Peach, or Cotton bowls unless it qualifies for the CFP.

This season, the Pac-12 is contractually bound to seven games: the New Year’s Six, Alamo, Las Vegas, Holiday, Sun, LA, and Independence bowls. If there are more qualified teams than available spots, the conference will try to secure invitations to other bowl games that have openings.

Arizona won its sixth game in Week 10 to move up to seventh place.

The Wildcats thrashed UCLA for their sixth victory on Saturday, giving the Pac-12 seven bowl-eligible teams — enough to meet the conference’s contractual obligations.

Following Arizona’s 27-10 victory, fans rushed the field to celebrate the Wildcats’ first postseason berth in six years.

It was the conference’s longest bowl drought — so long, in fact, that the game the Wildcats played at the end of the 2017 season no longer exists.

Here is a list of each team’s most recent bowl appearances, organized by year:


Oregon (Holiday Bowl)

Oregon State (Las Vegas Bowl)

UCLA (Sun Bowl)

USC (Cotton Bowl)

Utah (Rose Bowl)

Washington (Alamo Bowl)

Washington State (LA Bowl)


Arizona State (Las Vegas Bowl)


Colorado (Alamo Bowl)


Cal (Redbox Bowl)


Stanford (Sun Bowl)


Arizona (Foster Farms Bowl)

Stanford now has the longest bowl drought, with the Wildcats securing a spot this season.

However, a caveat is required: the Cardinal had a winning record (4-2) in 2020 but declined a bowl berth due to COVID.

Cal now has the longest streak of consecutive losing seasons, having last won at least six games in 2019. That streak will continue unless the Bears win their final three games.

According to our most recent postseason projections…

College Football Playoff/Sugar Bowl

Team: Oregon (8-1)

Home games (two): USC, Oregon State

Road games (one): Arizona State

Comment: Many people have been perplexed by Oregon’s position atop the Hotline’s weekly power ratings, but the calculation is actually quite simple: In our opinion, and after watching 90 percent of both teams’ snaps this season, the Ducks are better than the Huskies and will beat them on a neutral field in the Pac-12 championship game. And a one-loss Pac-12 champion will almost certainly make the CFP this year.

New Year’s Six/Fiesta Bowl

Team: Washington (9-0)

Home games remaining (two): Utah, Washington State

Road games remaining (one): Oregon State

Comment: Our prediction for first place is not a criticism of Washington’s overall trajectory. The Huskies’ rebuild under Kalen DeBoer is at least a year ahead of schedule, and they started from a much lower point in 2022 than the Ducks did.

Alamo Bowl

Team: Utah (7-2)

Home games (one): Colorado

Road games (two): Washington, Arizona

Comment: With USC suffering its third loss and looking to suffer another, it appears that the winner of Arizona-Utah will be the Alamo Bowl participant. Our current favorite in the head-to-head matchup is Utah, but it’s close to a coin toss.

Las Vegas Bowl

Team: Arizona (6-3)

Home games (one): Utah

Road games (two): Colorado, Arizona State

Comment: Facts: 1) The Arizona basketball team plays Florida Atlantic in Las Vegas on Dec. 23 at 12 p.m.; 2) The Las Vegas Bowl is Dec. 23 at 4:30 p.m. 3) Obviously!

Holiday Bowl

Team: USC (7-3)

Home games (one): UCLA

Road games (one): Oregon

Comment: The Hotline strongly disagreed with the notion that Caleb Williams would shut it down following USC’s loss to Utah (in order to stay healthy for the NFL Draft), and we continue to believe Williams will play the rest of the season. However, before making a decision on the Trojans, any bowl would want to know his status.

Sun Bowl

Team: Oregon State (7-2)

Home games (two): Stanford, Washington

Road games (one): Oregon

Comment: The Beavers have everything going for them, including a trip to a major bowl game. If things go wrong and they end up in El Paso, they will be arguably the best Pac-12 team to ever compete in the Sun Bowl.

LA Bowl

Team: UCLA (6-3)

Home games (two): Arizona State, Cal

Road games (one): USC

Comment: There cannot be many instances in college football history of a team’s bowl game being closer to campus than its home games.


Team: Colorado (4-5)

Home games (one): Arizona

Road games (two): Washington State, Utah

Comment: Colorado’s slump appears to be worse than it is because the early-season hype outpaced reality. Anyone familiar with CU’s personnel on the field knew the Buffs would struggle to win six games given the level of competition.


Team: Cal (3-6)

Home games (one): Washington State

Road games (two): Stanford, UCLA

Comment: The Bears could easily beat the Cougars and Cardinal and then head to Pasadena for their final scheduled game against UCLA, needing a win to become bowl-eligible. Perhaps the UC regents will insist on the Bruins paying the Berkeley tax.


Team: Stanford (3-6)

Home games (two): Cal, Notre Dame

Road games (one): Oregon State

Comment: If we’re judging Pac-12 head coaches based on what they have done this season with the personnel available, Troy Taylor is clearly in the top half.


Team: Washington State (4-5)

Home games (one): Colorado

Road games (two): Cal, Washington

Comment: We supported WSU for several weeks as the situation deteriorated. Not any longer. The Cougars will be home for the holidays, according to the Hotline, following an all-time collapse.


Team: Arizona State (2-7)

Home games (two): Oregon, Arizona

Road games (one): UCLA

Comment: Each season is decided by a handful of plays. That handful is the difference between 2-7 and 5-4 for the Sun Devils. They lost by three points to Colorado and Cal, and by a touchdown to Washington.

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