A Las Vegas Bowl matchup with Boise State or a Redbox Bowl game against a Big Ten foe seem to be the most likely bowl destinations for Cal at this point, but a lot of shuffling can take place between now and Dec. 8, which is when the final College Football Playoff rankings are released.
Two issues bring uncertainty to the Bears’ postseason situation.
1. Cal is one of four Pac-12 teams with identical 6-5 overall records and 3-5 conference marks, joining Arizona State, Washington State and Washington. Cal’s result against UCLA in Pasadena on Saturday night as well as the Washington-Washington State game and the Arizona-Arizona State contest will help determine where the Bears end up in the pecking order.
2. If Utah, which is No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings this week, gets into the national-championship playoff, the other Pac-12 teams that are bowl-eligible move up a notch in the conference’s bowl-game pecking order.
If that happens, the remaining Pac-12 team with the highest CFP ranking would go to the Rose Bowl. And don’t assume that would be Oregon if the Ducks lose to Utah in the Pac-12 title game. If Oregon, which is 14th in this week's CFP rankings, loses this week to Oregon State or in the conference title game, the Ducks might fall behind 22nd-ranked USC (8-4) in the final CFP rankings, in which case the Trojans would go to the Rose Bowl if Utah qualifies for the College Football Playoff.
If Utah loses this week against Colorado or in the Dec. 6 conference championship game against Oregon, the Pac-12 champ would go to the Rose Bowl and the other Pac-12 bowl teams would slip down a slot.
Here is the pecking order of the Pac-12's bowl tie-ins:
1. College Football Playoff -- Any Pac-12 team that finishes in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings will participate in the national-championship playoff.
1A. Rose Bowl (Pasadena) -- The Pac-12 champion or the highest ranked Pac-12 team if the conference champion is in the College Football Playoff will play in the Rose Bowl, probably against a Big Ten team.
2. Alamo Bowl (San Antonio) -- The No. 2 Pac-12 team would play the Big 12 No. 2 team.
3. Holiday Bowl (San Diego) --The No. 3 Pac-12 team would play a Big Ten team.
4. Redbox Bowl (Levi Stadium, Santa Clara) --The No. 4 Pac-12 team would play a Big Ten team.
5. Sun Bowl (El Paso) --The No. 5 Pac-12 team would play an ACC team.
6. Las Vegas Bowl -- The No. 6 Pac-12 team would play a Mountain West team.
7. Cheez-It Bowl (Phoenix) --The No. 7 Pac-12 team would play the Big 12 No. 6 team.
Here’s how our nine expert sites project Cal’s bowl destination and opponent. (You may note that some project Utah to be in the four-team national-championship playoff):
USA Today: Cal vs. Boise State, Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 21
Brett McMurphy: Cal vs. Boise State, Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 21
247 Sports: Cal vs. Boise State, Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 21
Sporting News: Cal vs. Boise State, Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 21
CBS Sports: Cal vs. Boise State, Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 21
ESPN (Kyle Bonagura): Cal vs. Indiana, Redbox Bowl (Santa Clara), Dec. 30
ESPN (Mark Schlabach): Cal vs. Indiana, Redbox Bowl (Santa Clara), Dec. 30
College Football News: Cal vs. Illinois, Redbox Bowl (Santa Clara), Dec. 30
Bleacher Report: Cal vs. Wake Forest, Sun Bowl, Dec. 31