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Pac-12 preseason bowl projections: Oregon heading to first ever College Football Playoff

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Nine Pac-12 teams head to bowl games.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Sugar Bowl (CFP) - Florida State vs. Oregon

I think the Ducks will lose at least a game this season, but College Football Playoff will be a big break for them sustaining their shot at a national championship even if they have a hiccup along the way, especially since I think that the SEC lacks a truly elite team this year and there are about five SEC teams that will beat up on each other. The Ducks' loss will keep them from hosting in the Rose Bowl and their reward will be a ridiculously-stacked Florida State team that I expect to run the table in a soft ACC.

Fiesta Bowl - UCLA vs. Ohio State

This is the Bruins' year and even though I see them dropping a couple of games with one of them actually being against USC, I don't see them losing more than two or three. They will get scooped by one of the elite bowls that isn't in the playoff this year and the nearby Fiesta Bowl would be a great destination against the best team from the Big 12 or Big Ten that doesn't make the playoff.

Alamo Bowl - Stanford vs. Texas

Stanford won't be heading to an elite bowl for the first time in a long time, but they will be fine in a bit of a rebuilding year after losing maybe more talent and experience than anyone in the country after 2013. Still, San Antonio is an excellent destination for a "down" year and the Longhorns will be better than I think many expect, coming into their home-state bowl much stronger than they did last year.

Holiday Bowl - USC vs. Nebraska

I am oh so tempted to predict that the Trojans sneak up and win the South, but can't quite pull the trigger. Instead, I think the Trojans will flash some of their potential and win some big games, but ultimately not win the South due to lack of depth and end up heading to San Diego, a fine destination for Steve Sarkisian's first season. The Huskers will be good in 2014, but just a bit outside of the Ohio State/Michigan State/Wisconsin circle and will provide an excellent match for the Trojans.

Fight Hunger Bowl - Washington vs. Iowa

The Huskies will head back to the Fight Hunger Bowl for the second year in-a-row, but the bowl has been greatly upgraded this season, making it a much more marquee destination. They will get a solid Iowa team that is a lot like them in that they are good and experienced, but just not quite ready to break into that elite territory of the conference.

Sun Bowl - Arizona State vs. Louisville

The Sun Devils will fight with the Huskies for power and I think they will come up just short, getting shipped of to luxurious El Paso. The ACC only has one elite team this year in Florida State, but they might have the strongest middle of any team in the conference, case in point, sending a pretty strong Louisville team to a bowl like this.

Las Vegas Bowl - Oregon State vs. Boise State

I feel like people are a bit down on the Beavers going into this season, but remember that they finished the season by nearly beating Oregon on the road and by clown stomping the usually-tough Broncos in Hawaii. I'm not saying that they are going to win the North or anything, but they should be near the upper-middle of the conference and be an appealing team for the Las Vegas Bowl here. I think the Mountain West is down this year, so I'm going with the Broncos my default even though the Las Vegas Bowl might be reluctant to setup a re-match from last year.

Cactus Bowl - Arizona vs. Texas Tech

The Cactus Bowl, formerly the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl got a big of a demotion, but it would be the perfect location for an Arizona team that I think will grind its way to the Pac-12's final bowl slot. Texas Tech always seems to be better than expected, but not that much better and would be the last Big 12 team to get a bowl slot.

Independence Bowl - Washington State vs. SMU

I think the Cougars will crawl to bowl eligibility but miss out on a Pac-12 slot. The good news is that due to my projected weakness of the middles of the Big Ten and SEC, there will be lots of bowls eager to scoop them up.