Things are probably pretty dark right now for Arizona State, Cal, Oregon and UCLA fans, but I want to shine some rays of hope through the cloudy November sky and outline how each of these four struggling Pac-12 teams could still make a bowl in 2016.
Let’s start with the easiest path…
Arizona State 5-4 (2-4) (needs one win)
The Sun Devils need just one win to get to bowl eligibility, but they also only have three games left, two of them on the road and two of them against the Pac-12’s highest-rated teams.
- At Washington
- At Arizona
I don’t think ASU has much of a chance to win the first two games, so I think they will have to pin everything on The Territorial Cup in Tucson, which isn’t ideal. Yes, the Wildcats are the worst team in the Pac-12 right now, but the Sun Devils aren’t far from that, and rivalry games tend to see underdogs step up.
Prediction = 6-6 (3-6) I think Arizona State gets that Territorial Cup win.
Things get a little tougher for…
Cal 4-4 (2-3) (need two wins)
The Bears have to grab two games from a tough November schedule to get back to a bowl game, but that is far from impossible for a team that still has a pretty dangerous offense and only has to leave home once.
- At Washington State
The Bears have an outside chance of stealing one from a Washington school since they get the Huskies in Berkeley coming off a road battle at Utah and since they play the same scheme basically as Washington State and the Cougars have struggled in the past few weeks. However, I think their best shot lies in their back two games. They are beyond due to win The Big Game and get a beatable Stanford team in Berkeley, and then get a UCLA team which likely will not have Josh Rosen and could have nothing to play for.
Prediction = 5-7 (3-6) I think Cal gets UCLA and takes Stanford down to the wire, but only gets one win.
Things get even tougher for…
UCLA 3-5 (2-4) (Need three wins)
It has been a very dark season for the Bruins and only gets darker with Josh Rosen likely out for the season. However, a rally to make a bowl game could help salvage a painful year in Westwood. It won’t be easy though, as the Bruins need to win three games, with red-hot Colorado and USC on the schedule.
- At Colorado
- Oregon State
- At Cal
Things kick off hard for the Bruins as they have to go to Boulder to take on the South-leading Buffs, but that isn’t an impossible game with the talent UCLA has. Things are a little easier after that with the Bruins getting a home game they should win over Oregon State and then a home game against a tough, but beatable USC team and a road game at a struggling Cal team. For me, the Bruins need to beat Oregon State and Cal, and hope to steal either the Colorado or USC game.
Prediction = 4-8 (3-6) I would be tempted to predict maybe even seven wins for the Bruins if they had got Josh Rosen back this week, but without him, I only see them beating Oregon State.
And who has the toughest path?
Oregon 3-5 (1-4) (Need three wins)
A nightmare season for the Ducks cannot be salvaged, but it will sting a lot less if true freshman quarterback Justin Herbert can somehow lead them to bowl game and it’s not impossible as the Ducks have to win three of their last four to do it. It won’t be easy though, as the Ducks only have one home game in November and have play three of the conference’s best.
- At USC
- At Utah
- At Oregon State
The Ducks don’t catch any breaks. So they have to win the Civil War for starters, and win at home against an improving Stanford team and then upset either USC or Utah on the road. Not impossible, but a very tall task.
Prediction = 4-8 (2-7) The Ducks will beat someone. Could be the most-likely of Oregon State, could be the least-likely of Utah. Wouldn’t be shocked if they got two, but I don’t think they can find three.