SALT LAKE CITY — With the late-season slides of Arizona State and Washington, the chances of more favorable bowls has opened up for Pac-12 teams such as Utah and Cal.
With a win this week, Utah can end up with the third-best record in the league at 8-4, which will look good to bowls that are choosing from the list of bowl-eligible teams.
The best Arizona State, Washington, Cal and UCLA can finish is 7-5. And it's likely that only two of them will finish with 7-5 marks since ASU and Cal play each other and UCLA has a tough game at USC.
Assuming Oregon and Stanford end up in BCS bowls, the next bowl choice for a Pac-12 team is the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio on Dec. 29. After that is the Holiday Bowl (Dec. 28), followed by the Sun Bowl (Dec. 31).
It's safe to assume that Utah would be chosen for one of those three bowls if it wins Friday against Colorado. That would not only put the Utes at 8-4, but they would be on a five-game win streak. Of course that could change if they make the Pac-12 championship, but even if they lost there, they would still likely be a more attractive team than a 7-5 team that has struggled down the stretch. Of course a win in the title game, if they get there, sends them to the Rose Bowl.
The good news for the league is that seven teams are bowl-eligible, despite the fact that USC in ineligible to play in a bowl game this year.
If the league gets only one BCS team, all of the Pac-12's bowl obligations will be filled and if it gets two BCS teams, only the New Mexico Bowl slot will go unfilled.
CIRCLE OF PARITY: There's a pretty interesting graphic on Pac-12 Stat Central, which shows how every team in the Pac-12 can claim to be ahead of everyone else by using comparative scores.
It goes like this.
Oregon defeated Stanford, which defeated Washington, which defeated Cal, which defeated Utah, which defeated Oregon State, which defeated Washington State, which defeated Colorado, which defeated Arizona, which defeated UCLA, which defeated Arizona State, which defeated USC, which defeated Oregon.
It may not mean any team can beat any team (Colorado over Oregon, anyone?), but it does show the relative parity of the league and how you never know what will happen on a given week.