Until now, we've been generally saying that Washington and other Division I-A teams need six wins to become "bowl eligible." That's generally true. But six wins doesn't guarantee a bowl appearance. And with the Huskies standing at 2-3 in the conference and 4-4 overall with four games to go, it's time to try to figure their bowl chances will more precision.
In trying to write the story for our Saturday paper, I learned there's no real easy way to explain all of the elements that come into play.
However, I'm posting the highlights here where we can refer to it -- as needed -- as the season winds down, starting with tomorrow's very big Arizona State game.
&bull The NCAA actually mandates a winning record for bowl teams. An exception allows teams with 6-6 records to qualify only if needed by to fill a conference's affiliated bowl commitments.
&bullThis season, the Pac-10 has six affiliated bowls, and teams are distributed according to finish in conference standings: No. 1 to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.; No. 2 to the Holiday in San Diego; No. 3 to the Sun in El Paso, Texas; Nos. 4 and 5 to the Emerald in San Francisco and the Las Vegas in Nevada; No. 6 to the Hawaii in Honolulu.
&bullExcept for the Rose Bowl, ties are broken by the whim of the individual bowl. If, for example, two teams are tied for the second-best in-conference record, the Holiday Bowl gets to choose, and the other team goes to the Sun Bowl. Head-to-head competition or overall record guarantees nothing.
&bullThe Rose Bowl uses head-to-head competition to break two-team ties. Things get more complicated for multi-team ties.
&bullThe Las Vegas and Emerald bowls are free to divide the Nos. 4 and 5 finishers any way they choose. If they cannot agree, the right to pick rotates each season. This season, the Las Vegas Bowl gets to decide.
&bullThe conference would need a seventh team to fill its bowl obligations if more than one Pac-10 team is selected for the 10 BCS bowl slots. As examples, this could happen if Southern California remains undefeated, remains in the top two of the BCS rankings and therefore goes to the BCS championship game, which this season is held in Glendale, Ariz. However, it also could happen if, as another example, USC loses to Notre Dame – which would likely bump the Trojans from the BCS championship game but would keep them in the Rose Bowl as Pac-10 champions – and if a second Pac-10 team, most likely California, would be taken as an at-large team by another BCS bowl.
&bullBecause Oregon State plays 13 games this season, the Beavers must with seven games to be bowl eligible. There is no exception for teams with losing records.
&bullAs a final resort, a Pac-10 team with a 6-6 record could be picked to play in a bowl game not affiliated with the conference only if there are no seven-win teams available anywhere in the nation. This season, there are 32 bowl games, resulting in a need for 64 bowl teams. (Going into this weekend, there are 62 Division I-A schools with winning record and 13 more at .500, including UW.)