By Sunday afternoon, the Washington Huskies should know the date, location and opponent for their final game of the 2015 season.
There are a few possibilities, based on recent projections, though the picture is clouded a bit by the fact that Washington will not be playing in a bowl game affiliated with the Pac-12.
As a bowl “free agent” of sorts, UW (6-6, 4-5 in Pac-12) will instead play in a bowl affiliated with a conference that did not fill all of its spots. The two most frequently cited games are the Heart of Dallas Bowl, played Dec. 26 at Cotton Bowl stadium, or the Armed Forces Bowl, played Dec. 29 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Some projections also mention the Independence Bowl, played Dec. 26 in Shreveport, Louisiana, as a possible destination, and a representative from that bowl was in attendance for UW’s 45-10 victory over Washington State in the Apple Cup.
FOX Sports’ Stewart Mandel projected Friday that UW will face Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. That game is supposed to feature teams from the Big Ten and Mountain West, but the Big Ten is one of a few conferences that will not have enough eligible teams to fill each of its guaranteed spots.
The same is true of the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which is affiliated with the Big 12 and Conference USA. Many projections have Southern Mississippi — which lost to Western Kentucky in Saturday’s league championship game — representing C-USA in that bowl, though the Big 12 has only six bowl-eligible teams, and the Heart of Dallas Bowl has the seventh selection among bowls affiliated with that conference.
The New Mexico Bowl, played Dec. 19 in Albuquerque, has also been mentioned as a possibility, though it seems less likely than the Dallas-area bowls.
Washington State, meanwhile, is headed to a more desirable bowl game. The Cougars finished the regular season 8-4 overall and with a 6-3 Pac-12 record, which means they could be headed anywhere from the Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30 in San Diego) to the Foster Farms Bowl (Dec. 29 in Santa Clara) to the Sun Bowl (Dec. 26 in El Paso) to the Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 19).
WSU’s bowl destination could be influenced by the final College Football Playoff rankings, especially if Stanford wins the Pac-12 championship game and vaults into the CFP’s top four. Only Stanford and Oregon finished with better league records than the Cougars, though WSU’s 6-3 mark is tied with two other teams (USC and Utah), and upper-tier bowls are not required to adhere strictly to the standings when selecting participants.