In a season where the Arizona State Football team was ranked, but lost three of four, then had a shot to win the Pac-12 South with two games to go and won the Territorial Cup but still fell short, the Sun Devils now find themselves in nearly an identical situation as last year. They are 7-5, and have a wide range of bowl possibilities. In order of prestige, the Pac-12 fills the Rose Bowl, Valero Alamo Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Redbox Bowl, Sun Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl and Cheez-It Bowl – we’ll go through some of the options.
The winner of the Pac-12 title game between Washington (9-3) and Utah (9-3) will play in the Rose Bowl. The Alamo Bowl and Holiday Bowl will be played by the loser of that matchup and Washington State (10-2) in some order. Oregon had the next most wins with eight, so they will likely take on the Redbox Bowl.
That leaves 7-4 Cal and Stanford along with ASU to play the other three contract bowls. The Golden Bears and Cardinal play this weekend, after their previous matchup was cancelled for poor air quality during the peak of the California wildfires.
It is a tossup between those schools as to which goes to what bowl. Many news outlets are split as to whether the Sun Devils will play in the Sun Bowl in Texas or the Las Vegas Bowl. ESPN analysts project them to play in the Sun Bowl for the second consecutive season and seventh time ever. Predictions from Sports Illustrated, The Athletic and USA Today suggest they will play in Las Vegas.
It could come down to the game in Berkeley. Stanford is favored by 2.5 points, and given their prior win in Tempe, they look like the favorable Sun Bowl entry. That leaves Arizona State with probably the Las Vegas Bowl and Cal with the Cheez-it. But, the committee could take ASU’s place in the Pac-12 South standings (second with a 5-4 conference record) and Herm Edward’s popularity into consideration.
If the Sun Devils do play in Las Vegas, they will face a Mountain West foe. Boise State, Utah State and Fresno State are the probable options. All three teams are 10-2, with the Broncos and Bulldogs set to face off in the conference title game.
In the past, there has been a combination of the best and secondary team from the Mountain West making the Vegas Bowl. The last time ASU played in this game, they took on No. 8 ranked Boise State and were no match for Doug Martin and the Broncos in 2011. Boise rolled over the Sun Devils 56-24.
On the other hand, if ASU heads to El Paso, they will face an ACC opponent. Usually, a team ranked from fourth to eighth in the conference participates, creating a wide range of possibilities, especially since six ACC teams finished 7-5. In 2017, NC State made the bowl against ASU while tied for the third-best record in the conference. They made the fourth-highest ACC Bowl. This year, the fourth best team has been Pittsburgh, but since they won their division, they will probably make a higher bowl. That leaves Boston College, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia and Duke. A battle of the Devils seems impossible since Duke stumbled through conference play.
In summary, it’s wide open.
The bowls will be selected after championship Saturday, on Sunday December 3.
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