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Updated Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 10:46 PM

Let the bowl speculation begin for the Huskies

By Bob Condotta
Seattle Times staff reporter

The Washington Huskies were already bowl-bound before beating Colorado on Saturday.

The manner in which they beat the Buffaloes, an ultimately dominating 38-3 victory after a sluggish start, made the Huskies look that much more bowl-worthy. They improved their record to 7-4 overall, 5-3 in Pac-12 play.

Before they can worry about a bowl, though, there's the matter of the Apple Cup on Friday against Washington State in Pullman.

And then will come the waiting.

While UW has the victories necessary for a bowl and seems guaranteed one of the Pac-12's seven contracted slots, the destinations for everyone in the conference probably will not be known until Sunday, Dec. 2, when the BCS pairings are announced.

Before Oregon lost to Stanford on Saturday night, it appeared likely the conference would get just one BCS bid. Now there's the greater possibility of two — the Pac-12 winner, if it's not Oregon, and Oregon as an at-large.

Other bowls likely will be on hold until they know the exact lineup of conference teams from which they can choose. Bowls select in a contractually agreed upon order, selecting all bowl-eligible conference teams. Bowls are not required to pick in order of finish, nor are they bound by tiebreakers or head-to-head. The only stipulation is that bowls cannot take a team with a conference record two games worse than a team they are bypassing (meaning, they can't take a 4-5 team ahead of a 6-3 team, but they can take a 5-4 team ahead of a 6-3 team).

Here are the bowls with which the Pac-12 has contracts:

Rose/BCS title game — The Pac-12 winner either goes to the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, or to the BCS title game. At this point, obviously, the latter seems remote.

Alamo Bowl — Played Dec. 29 in San Antonio, the Alamo gets the No. 2 selection, to pit against the No. 3 from the Big 12.

Holiday — Played Dec. 27 in San Diego, the Holiday gets the third choice against the Big 12's No. 5.

Sun Bowl — Played Dec. 31 in El Paso, the Sun gets the fourth choice against the ACC No. 4.

Maaco Bowl Las Vegas — Played Dec. 22, the Las Vegas bowl gets the fifth pick against the No. 1 selection from the Mountain West.

Kraft Fight Hunger — Played Dec. 29 in San Francisco, this bowl gets the sixth choice against Navy, which already has been invited.

New Mexico Bowl — Played Dec. 15 in Albuquerque, this bowl gets the seventh selection against the fourth or fifth choice from the MWC.

There are now eight bowl eligible teams in the Pac-12, meaning one could be left out of the above lineup. That team could be chosen to fill a spot in another bowl if one is available.

Washington seems assured of being chosen for one of the Pac-12's bowls.

Before the weekend, a lot of people figured UW might be headed to Las Vegas.

That could still be the case. However, Stanford's victory over Oregon and UCLA's over USC's muddies the Pac-12 picture a bit — if the conference gets two teams into the BCS (Oregon could be selected to another BCS bowl as an at-large team), that would essentially pull everyone else up a spot.

Washington went to the Holiday Bowl in 2010 and the Alamo Bowl in 2011, years when USC was ineligible and the conference got two teams in the BCS.

With USC again eligible, however, and possibly just one Pac-12 team in the BCS, the Huskies could go to a bowl lower in the pecking order than it did the past two years despite potentially having a better record (6-6 in 2010 before the bowl, 7-5 in 2011).

A general thought is that the Alamo might take the Pac-12 title game loser, if that team is not in the BCS, or could end up with Oregon, and that the Holiday would take either USC or UCLA. The Holiday Bowl has never had either the Trojans or Bruins as a participant and is thought eager to finally get one of them. It also has never had Stanford or Oregon State.

The Sun Bowl could be a destination for UW. But depending on how things shake out, the Sun Bowl might also have the option of taking Stanford, Oregon State or USC, as well (and might still be tempted to take the Trojans even if USC finishes with a worse overall record than the Huskies).

Interestingly, the probable opponent in the Vegas Bowl is Boise State, against whom UW is set to open the 2013 season on Aug. 30 in the first game in the new Husky Stadium.

But as it became evident in 2010, when the Holiday Bowl got a rematch of UW-Nebraska, that's far from a deal-breaker.

For now, the Huskies are content to let fans and media members bat around possible bowl opportunities, preferring instead to focus on the Apple Cup. UW was installed as a 10 ½-point favorite in a matchup it has won all three times since Steve Sarkisian became the UW coach in 2009.

Huskies pick up Shelton tight end

There were multiple reports Sunday night that Washington has gotten a commitment from tight end David Ajamu of Shelton High School.

Ajamu had previously committed to Oregon State before he had an offer from UW. That offer came last weekend and Ajamu decided in the past week to become a Husky instead. UW is listed as having 18 commitments for its Class of 2013. Commitments are not binding until letters-of-intent are signed in February.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

Friday

Apple Cup, UW @ WSU, 12:30 p.m., Ch. 13


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