SEATTLE — The University of Washington football team will find out today whether it will be home for the holiday.
The Huskies could be playing their bowl game in Las Vegas three days before Christmas or in San Francisco four days after Christmas. The Las Vegas Bowl and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl appear the most likely options for a UW team (7-5 overall, 5-4 in the Pacific-12 Conference) that finished fourth among the six teams in the Pac-12 North.
The bowl pairings will be announced live on ESPN at 5:30 p.m. today.
“I’m excited about it,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said after a Saturday morning practice. “We’re going to go somewhere. We want to go to the best bowl possible, obviously. So it’s exciting to find out your fate, where you’re headed and to start preparing for the trip.”
The planning will begin later today, when the Huskies find out where and when they play. Shortly after sending out a schedule to players, coaches and families, Sarkisian will get to hone in on UW’s opponent. Navy, Fresno State and Boise State appear the most likely teams to face the Huskies.
The Kraft Hunger Bowl in San Francisco has already locked in Navy, an independent that went 7-4 this season but beat just one opponent with a winning record (8-4 East Carolina) and has losses to San Jose State and Troy on its resume.
In terms of the bowl pecking order, the Las Vegas Bowl ranks just above the Kraft Hunger, trailing Pac-12 bowls like the Rose, Holiday, Alamo and Sun. UW and Arizona (7-5, 4-5, with a blowout win over the Huskies on its record) are considered the most likely Pac-12 invitees, and all we know is that one of them will face a team from the Mountain West.
The most likely MWC representative appears to be 20th-ranked Boise State (10-2, 7-1), but Fresno State and San Diego State had identical conference records. San Diego State looks like a probable choice for the Poinsetta Bowl in San Diego, while Fresno State could factor in if Boise State gets into a BCS bowl following losses by No. 16 UCLA and No. 17 Kent State.
Sarkisian said he’s not necessarily leaning toward one bowl or the other, but he wouldn’t mind the earlier date. After spending previous Decembers talking about how important it is for a college coach to spend Christmas in a hotel room — symbolizing inclusion in a higher-tier bowl — Sarkisian seemed more than fine with a Dec. 22 game in Las Vegas this time around.
“As much time as I can give our guys an opportunity to go home would be great,” he said when asked about the possibility of playing before Christmas. “These guys work so hard all year round that when I can give them a chance to get back with their moms and dads, brothers and sisters, and everybody back home, I’d like to allow them to do that. But we want to play in the best game possible; that’s the biggest thing.”