The College Football Playoff dream died with the stumble towards Arizona. Returning to the Rose Bowl sport for the primary time since 1999 was out after the heartbreaker towards USC.
Back-to-back losses have left UCLA to ponder one thing quite a bit much less enjoyable than a path to the Pac-12 championship sport.
Now it’s all about which mid-tier bowl sport the Bruins may discover themselves in subsequent month.
First, a fast primer on Pac-12 bowl choices. If the Pac-12 champion makes the CFP, the Rose Bowl picks a substitute staff (presumably the one with the next-best CFP rating). The Alamo Bowl will get the following choose, adopted by the Holiday Bowl and the Las Vegas Bowl. Those bowls can select primarily based on their very own desire as long as there isn’t greater than a one-game distinction in convention document between their choice and groups remaining on the board.
Starting with the Sun Bowl, which picks subsequent, the choices are primarily based strictly on convention document. The Jimmy Kimmel Bowl goes subsequent and the Pac-12 additionally will fill one slot from both the Armed Forces Bowl, First Responder Bowl or Gasparilla Bowl.
If every thing breaks proper, UCLA followers may get to spend a couple of days on San Antonio’s River Walk as a part of a visit to the Alamo Bowl. In a far much less attractive state of affairs, they might get to roam their very own houses earlier than making a a lot shorter commute to SoFi Stadium for the Jimmy Kimmel Bowl.
One place UCLA most likely gained’t be for the vacations is the Holiday Bowl. The Bruins’ last-minute withdrawal from the sport a yr in the past over a roster depleted by COVID-19 didn’t give bowl officers sufficient time to discover a substitute staff.
“In general, bowl games prefer to avoid back-to-back bowl trips,” Mark Neville, govt director of the Holiday Bowl, instructed The Times when requested about taking the Bruins once more within the wake of their pullout.
Translation: A SeaWorld orca is extra more likely to throw a go within the sport than Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Here is a take a look at UCLA’s best-case, worst-case and more than likely bowl eventualities:
Best-case state of affairs
The Bruins (8-3 total, 5-3 Pac-12) enter the ultimate week of the common season tied with Oregon State for fifth place within the convention standings. That’s not a fantastic place to be.
But simply as rapidly as issues have deteriorated, they may reverse course in a extra upbeat vogue.
If USC beats Notre Dame and wins the Pac-12 championship sport en path to the CFP, that may elevate one other convention staff — most likely the title-game loser, however not essentially — to the Rose Bowl. In 2016, Washington beat Colorado to win the Pac-12 title, and the Rose Bowl picked USC.
(No, there’s no real looking probability of the Bruins leapfrogging sufficient groups to spend Jan. 2 taking part in of their house stadium. Oregon, Utah and Washington are all extra probably choices.)
With a victory over California on Friday, UCLA may end in a three-way tie for third place with Washington and Utah if the Huskies lose their Apple Cup battle on the street towards Washington State (a definite chance) and the Utes do a faceplant towards Colorado (extremely unlikely).
The Alamo Bowl, which will get the following choose within the Pac-12 pecking order after the Rose Bowl, may go for the Bruins primarily based on their breathtaking offense that averages 40 factors per sport, which ranks fifth nationally. UCLA additionally has not performed within the sport since 2015, elevating its desirability and the probability of followers eager to journey to San Antonio for the sport Dec. 29.
Some of the Bruins’ youngest followers won’t even keep in mind the Alamo.
Worst-case state of affairs
This bowl sport is perhaps a punchline. Literally.
UCLA showing within the Jimmy Kimmel Bowl on Dec. 17 would spark all kinds of jokes, some probably humorous. How may the Bruins get there? Envision a doomsday state of affairs and also you’ve received it.
USC loses to Notre Dame however wins the Pac-12 championship sport, sending the Trojans to the Rose Bowl after they miss out on the CFP. The Alamo Bowl takes convention runner-up Utah, and Oregon goes to the Holiday Bowl.
Washington will get chosen for the Las Vegas Bowl and Oregon State, contemporary off a Civil War upset of Oregon, heads to the Sun Bowl.
You’re questioning the place the Bruins are in all this? They’ve fallen right into a tie for sixth place alongside Washington State after dropping the final word letdown sport towards Cal, which proves extra irritating than the dilly-dallying UC regents.
The solely salvation is that the Jimmy Kimmel Bowl picks UCLA, maintaining the Bruins house whereas Washington State heads to the Dec. 23 Gasparilla Bowl, wherever that’s.
Most probably state of affairs
If you prefer to play the percentages, wager UCLA going to the Las Vegas Bowl.
In what can be a heartwarming sendoff for Thompson-Robinson, who starred at Bishop Gorman High, the quarterback will get to play his remaining sport as a Bruin only some miles from house at Allegiant Stadium on Dec. 17.
This state of affairs entails the fewest upsets. USC wins out and goes to the CFP, capping a shocking Year 1 for Lincoln Riley and the Trojans. The Rose Bowl takes Oregon (the Pac-12 runner-up, on this mannequin) and Washington heads to the Alamo Bowl.
The Holiday Bowl chooses Utah, and UCLA, having defeated Cal to keep away from that post-Thanksgiving hangover, will get a brief flight to Las Vegas.
The solely caveat right here is that if USC doesn’t make the CFP, everybody will get bumped down a spot, beginning with the Trojans going to the Rose Bowl. In that state of affairs, the Bruins drop to the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl on Dec. 31.
After beginning the season 8-1, reviving hopes of a return to the Rose Bowl, that ending wouldn’t be g-r-r-reat!