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Holiday Bowl has Cal as an option, but also ASU, Washington, Oregon, USC

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Lots of options.

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl: Texas A&M v California Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The Holiday Bowl seems to have a firm grasp on who will be attending their bowl from the B1G side: The Michigan Wolverines, or the Iowa Hawkeyes.

On the Pac-12 side? Far less clarity.

Full quote:

“On the Pac-12 side, there’s USC, Arizona State, I’ve got to mention Cal and Washington as being in there right now. And even Oregon is in our picture. A week ago I wouldn’t have said that, but now they kind of are, which is pretty awesome. So we’re in good shape on the Pac-12 side, too. It’s going to be great for San Diego. It’s going to be a big game here.”

Basically, if Utah wins the Pac-12 and is nudged out of the playoffs by either Georgia or the Big 12 winner, then Utah goes to the Rose Bowl. Likewise, either the USC Trojans or the Oregon Ducks make the Alamo Bowl. The team that gets left out goes to the Holiday Bowl. In that scenario, I find it highly likely for the Cal to end up in the Redbox Bowl, as they are situated right in the Bay and are likeliest to get a solid ticket draw and good TV ratings.

If Utah does make the playoff and Oregon earns the Rose Bowl bid, then every team moves up. USC almost certainly takes the Alamo bid. That leaves the Holiday Bowl with the choice of either the Arizona State Sun Devils, California Golden Bears, or Washington Huskies.

I’m uncertain who the Holiday Bowl will take.

  • Arizona State is the closest (just edging out Cal), and has a large fan contingent in the West Coast. They have the best win in Oregon and have beaten Cal head-to-head. Their fanbase is energetic and motivated. Those would be my favorites.
  • Cal has a solid shot as well. They’ve been to three Holiday Bowls in the 2000s and attendance has been great for all of them. However, I would think they are a dark horse, in the sense that their fan attendance numbers have not been as good as of late and they are more of a defensive-minded team, so the ratings might not be as great.
  • Washington provides huge fan attendance and great TV ratings, but they are definitely the most disappointed fanbase and might skip out on a trip this year. However, Chris Petersen just resigned, so they have that working in their favor from a TV perspective as it’ll be a national story. Washington could sneak in and push ASU out of this spot.

It also might be about who is considered the best matchup for their B1G opponents Washington has the highest ceiling, although they’ve rarely shown it. Arizona State is more mid-level, but has played above their heads. Cal has surprised thanks to their defense, but might be decided underdogs against Iowa or Michigan. We shall see.

Read more about bowl projections in our post from earlier in the week.