Cal and Arizona State both are bowl eligible heading into their matchup Saturday night at Memorial Stadium, and the winner could wind up securing a berth in the Jan. 2 Cactus Bowl in Tempe.
That’s the Pac-12’s No. 7 bowl slot and the Bears (6-5, 3-5 Pac-12), at least, cannot ascend any higher than seventh in the final overall conference pecking order. ASU (6-5, 4-4) could climb higher, depending on how other teams fare.
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach projects Cal to face Air Force in the Cactus Bowl, while Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has the Bears playing in Tempe against Texas Tech, which is Dykes’ alma mater.
The Bears also could fall to a game with no contractual ties to the Pac-12. Stewart Mandel of Fox has them playing Duke at the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26 in Shreveport, Louisiana, and the website Campus Insiders projects Cal against Air Force at the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 29 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Cal will play in a bowl game for the first time since 2011, when it lost 21-10 to Texas in the Holiday Bowl.
Nine Pac-12 teams already have six wins to become eligible and Washington could become the 10th on Friday with a win over rival Washington State in the Apple Cup.
Senior safety Griffin Piatt is lost for the season after breaking his collarbone in the second half at Stanford on Saturday. The Bears also will face ASU without safety Damariay Drew (knee), who was injured the week before, but could return in time for a bowl game.
Senior starter Stefan McClure will be paired with either Luke Rubenzer or Khari Vanderbilt.
Piatt (3.63 grade-point average/business administration), senior defensive lineman Todd Barr (3.18/legal studies) and junior placekicker Matt Anderson (3.75/business administration) all earned first-team Pac-12 All-Academic honors. Rubenzer (3.38/undeclared) earned second-team honors.