USC Bowl Projections Following Pac-12 Championship Game


Despite having all of the makings for a fun and exciting affair, Friday night’s Pac-12 Championship Game was over early in the first half, with Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks easily beating the Arizona Wildcats.

With the win, Oregon not only grabs its fourth Pac-12 title in six years, but they clinch a berth in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Arizona’s poor showing paves the way for the Cats to go from Fiesta Bowl invitee-in-waiting, to potential Alamo Bowl hopeful. In turn, that sets off a series of events in the Pac-12 bowl scenarios. Where’s the USC bowl projections send the Trojans now? Let’s walk through the scenarios.

Scenario 1: Fiesta Bowl takes a Pac-12 South team

A Pac-12 South team in the Fiesta bowl –initially believed to be Arizona, but now could include UCLA or ASU– means that the remaining three teams would be available for the top three choices: the Alamo Bowl, Holiday Bowl, and Foster Farms Bowl.

From all of the reports out this week, the Holiday Bowl favors USC and the Foster Farms Bowl favors sandbagging to take to Stanford in a play to sell tickets for the hometown team. They can do so, as Stanford’s 5-4 conference record is within one game of Arizona State, UCLA and USC’s 6-3 record.

That would likely mean that the Alamo Bowl would decide between whichever teams –UCLA, Arizona or ASU– the Fiesta Bowl doesn’t take, while the Sun Bowl gets the leftover due to Stanford moving up to the Foster Farms.

Here’s how it could play out:

Scenario 2: Pac-12 South held out of January Six Bowls

With four teams in the second-tier bowl pool, the bowl picture is much more convoluted. The Alamo Bowl would be able to pick Arizona, ASU, USC or UCLA. Any of those selections would be good picks, and who they choose is anyone’s guess.

And the picking goes on down the line, with the Holiday, Foster Farms, Sun, Vegas and Cactus Bowls. But due to the conference records of the teams, it’s important to note the caveats.

Arizona, as the only Pac-12 South team with a 7-2 regular season record, could not fall below the Foster Farms Bowl. Furthermore, Stanford and Utah cannot be picked ahead of Arizona, and neither USC, UCLA or Arizona State could drop below Washington.

Therefore, you can start from the back end. Washington would fall out of the Pac-12 bowl allotments and would need an at large bowl invite from somewhere.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Back to top. The Alamo would put all of the dominoes in motion, deciding between the top four Pac-12 South teams. All in all, UCLA is still probably the most attractive team to the Alamo.

USC’s bowl position comes down to the Holiday Bowl’s decision. If whispers of the Trojans being in good standing for a trip to San Diego are accurate, then it seems very unlikely that the Trojans could slip past the Holiday.

Consider this, Nebraska is the most often team projected to play in the Holiday, and they’re going through a coaching change. While the Huskers are notorious for traveling well, one could argue that apathy following Bo Pelini’s firing could hinder bowl ticket sales on their end.

USC on the other hand, is a virtual home team for a game in San Diego and would nearly guarantee a sold out Qualcomm Stadium, despite not filling hotels for as long as other teams due to the proximity. Plus, the Trojans have never played in the Holiday Bowl, while ASU played there last season and Arizona played against Nebraska in the 2009 affair.

Arizona, if they’re passed over by the Holiday Bowl, would be mandated to go to the Foster Farms Bowl, as their 7-3 conference record is more than one game better than Stanford and Utah’s 5-4 mark. Therefore, ASU probably goes to the Sun, Utah gets the Las Vegas Bowl nod due to geography and Stanford finds themselves in Tempe.

However, if both the Alamo and Holiday Bowl does pass USC and the Foster Farms Bowl takes hometown Stanford or by-rule Arizona, the Trojans are at the mercy of the Sun Bowl.

Due to the PR nightmare that was the 2012 Sun Bowl, it’s incredibly unlikely that UTEP would willingly have the Trojans back. On that behalf, the doomsday scenario is that USC could fall all the way down to the Las Vegas Bowl to play the winner of the Boise State-Fresno State Mountain West Championship game. Again, unlikely.

Here’s how we see it playing out if the Pac-12 only gets one major bowl bid:

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