Pac-12 bowl projections entering Week 1
The Pac-12 is in a transitional phase after the stunning news over the summer that USC and UCLA are leaving to join the Big Ten in the fall of 2024.
But for the fall of 2022, there are more pressing matters.
For starters, the Pac-12 is clearly fifth among the Power Five leagues in the College Football Playoff era. No league team has made the four-team semifinals since Washington in 2016, and the Pac-12 has not won a Playoff game since Oregon in the inaugural edition in 2014.
Can the league make it back this season?
The problem might be that the league is pretty well-balanced. With nine conference games, it’s tough to go undefeated, which is all but required for a Pac-12 team to overcome the gap between them and the powerhouses in the SEC and Big Ten.
We’re projecting Utah to return to the Rose Bowl, where the Utes played one of the most thrilling games in postseason history in January, falling to Ohio State 48-45.
USC made the biggest offseason splash, not only with the B1G announcement but by hiring Lincoln Riley as coach. The Trojans were very busy in the transfer portal, but we’re projecting that USC will still fall short of a New Year’s 6 bowl. We think Oregon, under another new coach, Dan Lanning, will give the Pac-12 a pair of representatives in the New Year’s Six bowls.
If the Pac-12 sends a team to the CFP, the next-highest ranked team will go to the Rose Bowl. Otherwise, the league champion will take its traditional place in Pasadena on Jan. 2 (it moved from Jan. 1 this year because New Year’s Day is a Sunday so the NFL will play that day).
After that, the conference has arrangements with five bowls in the same tier, then there are three other bowls with the option of taking a Pac-12 team.
So here are the Pac-12 bowl projections for the 2022 season. No league team played in Week 0, but the action gets underway this weekend; the first one to hit the field will be Arizona State, which faces Northern Arizona on Sept. 1.
Rose Bowl, Jan. 2, Pasadena, Calif.: Utah vs. Michigan
Cotton Bowl, Jan. 2, Dallas: Oregon vs. Houston
Sun Bowl, Dec. 30, El Paso, Texas: Arizona State vs. Virginia
Alamo Bowl, Dec.29, San Antonio: Stanford vs. Baylor
Holiday Bowl, Dec. 28, San Diego: USC vs. Florida State
Armed Forces Bowl, Dec. 22, Fort Worth, Texas: Oregon State vs. TCU
Los Angeles Bowl, Dec. 17, Inglewood, Calif.: UCLA vs. Boise State
Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 17, Las Vegas: Washington vs. LSU