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Who's bowl bound in Pac-10?

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

While they haven't yet played a game, it's never to early to start thinking out the bowl season.

The Pac-10 has contracts with six bowls: Rose Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Sun Bowl, Emerald Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl.

And, of course, there's always the possibility of two BCS bowl teams, either with one team playing for a national title or two earning high enough rankings to get selected.

Here's a guess at how things might play out.

Arizona

Bowl bound? Possibly.

Best Case/Worst Case: If the Wildcats get solid play at quarterback, they could break through and earn a Holiday Bowl berth, though it might help if the conference gets two BCS bowl invitations. The worst case is Arizona sliding back a couple of stepS and not earning bowl eligibility.

Prediction: A fifth-place finish means a return trip to the Las Vegas Bowl, but maybe there could be some wheeling and dealing to get the 'Cats elsewhere, such as the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco.

Arizona State

Bowl bound? Possibly.

Best Case/Worst Case: If the Sun Devils improve on the offensive line and get solid play at quarterback, they could break into the top-half of the conference and earn a Las Vegas Bowl berth. If the line doesn't improve and the defense isn't good enough to hold things together, the Sun Devils will post the first back-to-back losing seasons in Dennis Erickson's coaching career.

Prediction: Arizona State will fall just short again and stay home for the holidays.

California

Bowl bound? Count on it.

Best Case/Worst Case: If Cal's passing game improves, this is a BCS bowl team, whether that's the Rose Bowl or another game. If the passing game continues to be mediocre, then the Bears could end up in another mid-level bowl game.

Prediction: Cal is the most likely candidate for a second BCS bowl berth, but odds are a No. 2 finish will send the Bears to the Holiday Bowl.

Oregon

Bowl bound? Count on it.

Best Case/Worst Case: If the Ducks get things straight on both lines, they could challenge for a Rose Bowl berth. If the lines struggle, then the options figure to be the Sun, Emerald or Las Vegas Bowls.

Prediction: The Ducks head back to El Paso for the Sun Bowl.

Oregon State

Bowl bound? Count on it.

Best Case/Worst Case: Considering the Beavers have been able to reload before, it's not ridiculous to project them as high as the Holiday Bowl, if Cal and Oregon falter. As for a worst case, while the significant personnel losses could plausibly lead to a losing season, the likelihood is a downturn would mean the Las Vegas or Poinsettia bowls.

Prediction: Emerald Bowl.

Stanford

Bowl bound? Possibly.

Best Case/Worst Case: While Stanford doesn't look like a contender for the top-third of the conference, a fourth-place finish and Emerald Bowl invitation wouldn't be completely shocking. As for worst cases, the Cardinal may find that lots of returning starters doesn't automatically solve everything and that the team speed is still not there for a winning record.

Prediction: By our count, the Pac-10 will have seven bowl eligible teams for six contracts, and Stanford likely would be the last pick, meaning it will have to earn an invitation from a bowl that couldn't fill its contract -- maybe the Texas Bowl?

UCLA

Bowl bound? Possibly.

Best Case/Worst Case: If UCLA gets adequate play on the offensive line and at quarterback, it could break into the top half of the Pac-10 and perhaps earn an Emerald Bowl invite. Worst case is the Bruins offense remaining anemic and that leaving them with a losing record.

Prediction: Poinsettia. The southern California angle will earn the Bruins the berth over other 6-6 or 7-5 Pac-10 teams, such as Stanford.

USC

Bowl bound? Count on it.

Best Case/Worst Case: The best case is the BCS national title game. The worst is the Holiday Bowl.

Prediction: A fifth consecutive Rose Bowl might not sound appealing to the Trojans, but it would require a bowl obsessed with Pac-10-Big Ten tradition to wheel-and-deal to send them elsewhere.

Washington

Bowl bound? Forget about it.

Best Case/Worst Case: If the Huskies scheduled less ambitiously, this would be a "possibly." For real. If Washington administrators had scheduled three nonconference patsies, like other BCS teams do, the Huskies would have had a shot at notching three Pac-10 wins and breaking even at 6-6. As it is, the worst case could see the Huskies only winning one game -- Idaho.

Prediction: Home for the holidays but feeling a lot better than last year.

Washington State

Bowl bound? Forget about.

Best Case/Worst Case: The Cougars are going to struggle. Their best case is probably three or four wins. Worst is winless,

Prediction: Home for the holidays.