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2011 Bowl Projections: UCLA Bruins Could Be Headed For Las Vegas Or Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

The NCAA approved a petition to allow UCLA into a bowl game despite their 6-7 record.

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The college football bowl selection process will not be concluded until Sunday evening, when the bowl pairings will be announced at 6 p.m. PST on ESPN. The UCLA Bruins lost 49-31 to the Oregon Ducks in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday night, but are still in line for a bowl berth. UCLA appears likely to be headed to Las Vegas or San Francisco for their bowl game, depending on what happens Sunday.

The Bruins are under .500 at 6-7, which would normally make them ineligible for a bowl. But the Bruins were 6-6 during the regular season and successfully petitioned the NCAA for a bowl waiver if they lost to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, which they did.

Pac-12 Bowl Eligible Teams  
Team Overall Conference
Oregon* 11-2 8-1
Stanford 11-1 8-1
Washington 7-5 5-4
California 7-5 4-5
Utah 7-5 4-5
Arizona State  
6-6 4-5
UCLA 6-7 5-4
*clinched Rose Bowl berth

"As a program, we appreciate the NCAA approving our petition for a bowl waiver," said UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero in a statement on Wednesday. "We will be able to give our 18 seniors one more chance to represent their university and end their collegiate careers on a high note, regardless of the outcome of this Friday's Pac-12 Championship Game. We'd like to thank the NCAA for considering the unique situation in which we find ourselves this year and rewarding us with this opportunity."

With Rick Neuheisel now fired, the Bruins will be coached on an interim basis by offensive coordinator Mike Johnson.

Oregon, with their win over UCLA, is headed to the Rose Bowl. The Stanford Cardinal were No. 4 in last week's BCS standings and barring an unexpected shift will remain there and would be headed for an automatic berth in a BCS game, likely the Fiesta Bowl.

That leaves five teams left for six other bowls with ties to the Pac-12. This is the time when the postseason ineligibility of the USC Trojans really hurts the conference. The Pac-12 bowl partners, in order of selection, are as follows:

  • Valero Alamo Bowl (vs. Big 12, December 29 in San Antonio)
  • Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (vs. Big 12, December 28 in San Diego)
  • Hyundai Sun Bowl (vs. ACC, December 31 in El Paso)
  • MAAACO Las Vegas Bowl (vs. Mountain West, December 22 in Las Vegas)
  • Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (vs. at-large team, December 31 in San Francisco)
  • Gildan New Mexico Bowl (vs. Mountain West, December 17 in Albuquerque)

It seems reasonable that the three 7-5 teams could take the top three spots, though it is important to note that the bowls don't have to choose teams based on standings. Washington set themselves apart from that trio with wins over both Cal and Utah.

That would leave the Las Vegas Bowl with a choice between Arizona State and UCLA, with the other team headed for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Neither team is particularly interesting right now, as the Sun Devils ended their year with four straight defeats and the Bruins were blown out in three of their last four games. UCLA did beat ASU 29-28 on November 5 in Pasadena.

The New Mexico Bowl will likely have to choose an at-large team since there would be no remaining Pac-12 teams eligible for a bowl.

But for the Bruins, it looks like either Christmas weekend in Las Vegas or New Year's Eve in San Francisco. We will find out later Sunday night.

For more news about UCLA football and their potential bowl destination, be sure to read Bruins Nation.