The USC Trojans wrapped up their 2014 regular season in ravishing fashion on Saturday afternoon, routing classic rivals Notre Dame 49-14 at the LA Coliseum. Now, they await a bowl invitation. The current USC bowl projection sees Santa Clara as the likely destination.
Multiple outlets including CBS, ESPN and SB Nation have the Trojans playing in the Foster Farms Bowl, the game formerly known as the Emerald Bowl and Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
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The Pac-12 is likely to have two teams make either the College Football Playoff or a New Years Six bowl, with Arizona all but locking up a bid to the Fiesta Bowl after beating ASU on Friday, and Oregon being a national title contender. The winner of Friday’s conference championship game is guaranteed a spot.
Beyond that, the Alamo Bowl gets the first selection, followed by the Holiday Bowl. They will get the choice between UCLA, ASU and USC. All three teams finished tied with a 6-3 record in the conference and any could be selected.
All three teams lost their final Pac-12 game, but both UCLA and ASU have a 9-3 overall record, in addition to being highly ranked for several weeks of the season. Due to that, look for the Bruins to get an invite to the Alamo, while the Holiday takes the Sun Devils.
That would presumably put USC into a matchup against a Big Ten team in the Foster Farms Bowl, which has the third non-CFB playoff bowl selection out of the Pac-12.
Who would the Trojans face? That’s anyone’s guess.
It would depend on whether or not the B1G gets two teams into the CFB playoff bowls, which is likely. Michigan State is 10-2 and is in prime position to be an at large team, should Ohio State beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game and clinch the automatic berth.
Furthermore, there’s several middle tier B1G teams with similar records, making for the wide range of projections.
The most interesting matchup would surely be Nebraska or Penn State, but both would need things to fall a certain way to meet USC.
In order for Nebraska to get the nod, they would have to be passed up by a few bowls, perhaps citing the sacking of Bo Pelini. That’s probably not going to happen.
PSU’s invite to the Foster Farms Bowl hinges on a caveat which allows for bowls to select a team within one game in the standings of the best team available.
With a 2-6 record in conference, PSU would only be eligible for an invite to Santa Clara if Nebraska, Minnesota, Maryland and Iowa were all off the table.
At that point, PSU could be selected over Illinois and Rutgers, both of whom are 3-5 in the B1G. This would be Penn State’s first bowl game in three seasons due to an NCAA-imposed bowl ban and the Nittany Lions surely would travel better than UI or Rutgers.
So, if you’re hoping for a 2009 Rose Bowl rematch, here’s probably what you’re gunning for:
CFP Bowl: Ohio StateCFP Bowl: Michigan StateHoliday Bowl: WisconsinCitrus Bowl: NebraskaOutback Bowl: MinnesotaPinstripe Bowl: MarylandTaxSlayer Bowl: IowaFoster Farms Bowl: Penn StateQuick Lane Bowl: RutgersHeart of Dallas Bowl: Illinois
The bowl matchups will be announced on Sunday, December 7th. Should the Holiday opt to pass on ASU and take the Trojans, Wisconsin, Michigan State or Nebraska would be the mostly likely opponents.