By Christian Caple The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Steve Sarkisian said he’s excited to coach the Washington Huskies in one more game, whichever bowl they’re sent to, whichever team they’re paired with, wherever the game will be played.
He just doesn’t seem to be thinking much about it right now.
“We’ve got time,” Sarkisian said after the Huskies beat Washington State, 27-17, in Friday’s Apple Cup. “Wherever they send us, we’ll go play and we’ll prepare and we’ll do a great job. I think for us right now, it’s about hitting the road recruiting as coaches and for our players it’s about finishing off this quarter really well, doing great in school. So that’s where our focus shifts now here for the next couple weeks.”
Washington won’t know for sure where it’s headed for its bowl game until Sunday, Dec. 8, when the BCS bowl selections are announced, along with the participants of the remaining 30 bowls.
The most likely destination for UW appears to be the Fight Hunger Bowl, which is played at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 27 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Fight Hunger Bowl has the sixth selection of bowl-eligible teams in the Pac-12, and there seems to be five conference teams that will likely be selected ahead of UW by bowls higher on the pecking order.
The winner of the Pac-12 championship game between Stanford and Arizona State will play in the Rose Bowl. The Alamo Bowl can select the loser of that game, or opt for Oregon, which finished second in the Pac-12 North and has a 10-2 record. The Holiday Bowl will surely invite whichever of those teams isn’t picked by the Alamo Bowl.
The Sun Bowl (El Paso, Texas on Dec. 31) makes the fourth selection, and logic suggests it would invite the winner of Saturday night’s game between UCLA and USC. But USC had such a poor showing in that game last season, the Sun Bowl committee might think twice before inviting the Trojans again.
Regardless, UCLA and USC will likely each be selected ahead of Washington, meaning the Las Vegas Bowl — UW’s destination last season — which picks fifth, will probably invite the loser of the UCLA-USC game.
That leaves Washington (8-4, 5-4 in Pac-12) as the logical selection of the Fight Hunger Bowl. If that’s the case, the Huskies already know their opponent — Brigham Young accepted an invitation after becoming bowl eligible in late October.
The Fight Hunger Bowl wrote on its website last week that it was considering Washington, Washington State and Arizona, but UW’s win over WSU likely eliminates the Cougars, and the Huskies’ victory over Arizona would likely serve as a trump card should those teams finish with similar records.
But that will all be sorted out over the next week, during which Sarkisian and his staff will be on the road recruiting. It’s possible, but not likely, that the Huskies will practice this week.
In any event, Washington will play in a bowl for the fourth consecutive season. That hasn’t happened since the Huskies made eight consecutive bowl trips from 1995-2002.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to play another game with this group, because I think they’ll go out and perform,” Sarkisian said. “They’ll prepare great and they’ll go out and perform, and I’m excited about the future of this program with where we’re headed.”