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2015 preseason Pac-12 bowl predictions: USC to College Football Playoff

A preseason look at which bowls Pac-12 teams might end up in.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Orange Bowl (College Football Playoff) - USC vs. Ohio State

I go back and forth between putting Oregon or USC here, but since I see the Trojans winning the Pac-12 Championship Game after losing in Eugene a couple of weeks before, I am going with USC. Steve Sarkisian gives me a ton of pause here, but I am going to cave and give into the USC hype, especially since I like their overall schedule outside of that November trip to Eugene.

The Trojans sneak into the Playoff with the last slot and get pinned up against an Ohio State that is the strongest team I have seen on preseason paper in a long time.

Rose Bowl - Oregon vs. Michigan State

I could still see the Ducks getting into the Playoff even if they lose the Pac-12 Championship Game (especially if they beat Michigan State early in the season), but I wouldn't bet on it, especially considering I think they will drop another game (either at Michigan State or a Pac-12 game they aren't expected to lose). The Ducks would be a huge score for the Rose Bowl if they don't make the Playoff cut and getting back to the Rose Bowl after losing Mariota would be a major accomplishment for the Ducks.

Win or lose to the Ducks early in the season, I think the Spartans only drop one more game in the regular season (to Ohio State) and just misses the cut for the Playoffs. The Rose Bowl would love to rematch the second-best teams in the Big Ten and Pac-12 for a great showdown and third meeting between the two teams in two seasons.

Alamo Bowl - UCLA vs. Oklahoma

The Bruins are going to have another very good season, but breaking in a true freshman quarterback (even if he is a blue chipper like Josh Rosen) will hold them back and lead to a few losses. The Bruins will be close to getting selected for a BCS type bowl, but I think they just miss out and get the Pac-12's top non-elite bowl slot.

Holiday Bowl - Arizona State vs. Penn State

The pack gets pretty tight around here and I think Arizona State will win somewhere between 8-10 games and be a fun choice for the Holiday Bowl as a team with an explosive offense and aggressive defense.

Foster Farms Bowl - Stanford vs. Minnesota

The Foster Farms Bowl may very well become The Stanford Bowl. I think the Cardinal again win around eight or nine, maybe 10 games and end up being a great selection for their hometown bowl.

Sun Bowl - Arizona vs. North Carolina

I think Arizona will be good again, but just below that USC/UCLA/Arizona State crust in the South. I think that will also be good enough to get them into a solid bowl game not too far from home that they should be able to win.

Las Vegas Bowl - Utah vs. Utah State

Utah is much better than they were a couple of years ago, but I think will take a tiny step back from where they were in 2014. They will still be good enough to get back to the bowl they played in last year and get a rematch with a tough rival from the Mountain West.

Cactus Bowl - Sorry cacti, no Pac-12 team will be able to fill this slot

I don't think any other Pac-12 teams get to bowl eligibility.