Chris Petersen knows there exists a possibility that the Washington Huskies could play in a bowl game even if they don’t beat Washington State on Friday to achieve a 6-6 record.
With there likely to be a shortage of six-win teams — there are 80 bowl spots, and only 71 teams currently eligible to fill them — it appears that some bowls will have to settle for teams that finish the season with a 5-7 record.
But don’t ask the Huskies coach about. He says he’s not ready to think that way.
“Don’t ask me the question,” Petersen said, “because I don’t even know. We’re just playing this game.”
If they win, they will be guaranteed a bowl berth somewhere, though perhaps not to a bowl affiliated with the Pac-12. There are only seven of those, and seven of the league’s nine bowl-eligible teams will finish with a better record than UW.
If they lose, they will finish the regular season with a 5-7 record, but could luck into a bowl anyway. There are 18 teams that could still finish with six wins, though several of them would need to pull off an upset or two to make it happen. Nine of them must qualify for bowl games to avoid at least one 5-7 team being selected.
The Associated Press reported Monday that the NCAA oversight committee will determine the guidelines for how bowls should select such teams if necessary. Current NCAA rules do not address the issue.
And while Petersen didn’t want to discuss his own team’s prospects, he made clear his opinion, in general, of 5-7 teams participating in bowl games.
When asked about it, Petersen let out a frustrated “ugh” sound.
“I think there’s too many bowls,” he said. “I’ll say that, if we’re talking about that.”
It’s not hard to read between those lines, though the Huskies would obviously prefer to simply win Friday and bypass that discussion entirely.
They could be facing a weakened WSU team. The status of Luke Falk, the Cougars’ sophomore starting quarterback, remains unknown after Falk suffered an apparent head injury Saturday. After slamming his head against the turf for the second time in as many games, Falk was strapped to a backboard and carted off the field.
WSU coach Mike Leach does not comment on injuries, though athletic director Bill Moos said on his Monday radio show that Falk is doing well and the Cougars are hopeful he can play this week. But he will have to pass concussion protocol first.
If Falk doesn’t play, the Cougars will start redshirt freshman Peyton Bender, who took over for Falk and completed 13-of-22 passing for 133 yards, a touchdown and an interception in WSU’s 27-3 victory over Colorado.
“He doesn’t really look like a backup,” Petersen said. “And I know when Falk kind of came in last year, he didn’t really look like a backup. So I think again, they do an unbelievable job of coaching in that system, and coaching those kids up. … They’re going to run that system. So that’s what we’re trying to defend, is those routes and the run game they have, and those type of things.”
Increased security at Apple Cup
Expect a heightened security presence Friday at Husky Stadium.
Fans who bring bags to the game will be given a “full bag check,” UW said Monday, so they should plan to arrive earlier than usual (or leave their bags home to avoid long lines).
A UW spokesperson said there will be additional security measures “both seen and unseen” at the stadium.
Petersen said sophomore nose tackle Elijah Qualls, who has missed the Huskies’ last three games because of an ankle/leg injury, practiced Monday. But he had no definitive update on the status of Qualls, linebacker Travis Feeney (shoulder) or tailback Dwayne Washington (leg) for Friday. “We’re very hopeful. I think we’re hopeful, I do,” Petersen said. “I think you’re going to see something … guys are practicing. That’s all I’ll say.” … Petersen decided not to make any UW players available for media interviews this week. He said players are already too busy with Thanksgiving, the short week, parents coming to town and an upcoming banquet. “We’ve got a lot of things going on here, with all the distractions we spoke about,” Petersen said. “So we just thought, listen, the last thing they need to do is talk about — they’re thinking about it enough, and it’s time for us to just kind of pay attention to what we need to pay attention to.”