Washington State Cougars Bowl Projections: Can WSU Get Rose Bowl Invite?

Ryan DeVault

Washington State Cougars bowl projections are the best they have been in years. WSU has a real shot at getting an invite to the Rose Bowl, which would give the loyal Cougars fans something to look forward to in the cold winter months. The Cougars just beat the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday, Oct. 22, improving to 5-2 on the season. That puts WSU just one victory short of being officially bowl eligible.

In the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, the Washington State Cougars slide in as the No. 26 team. The Cougars received a lot of votes from the writers, but came up just short of the final slot in the rankings. It is very likely that WSU can break into the top 25 with a victory next weekend, but that game comes on the road against a hungry team from Oregon State.

In the updated Pac-12 standings, WSU is tied with the Washington Huskies for first place in the North Division at 4-0. The Washington schools are the only ones left with an undefeated record in conference games, putting the teams two full games ahead of the California Bears within the division. With just five games left on the schedule, it's a great place for the Cougars to be.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the early college football bowl projections are also shining some positive light on the Washington State Cougars. One ESPN analyst predicts that WSU will play in the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Another ESPN analyst has WSU in the Alamo Bowl. Over at CBS Sports, though, the analysts are saying the Cougars won't go to a better postseason game than the Foster Farms Bowl.

When it comes to breaking down the Washington State Cougars' bowl projections, the team has complete control over its own destiny. With two non-conference losses on the schedule, WSU doesn't have a real shot at the College Football Playoff, but there is a definite route straight to the Rose Bowl that has been laid out by the conference. It doesn't even require that WSU wins all of its final five games during the 2016 college football season.

The most important game for the Cougars comes on Friday, November 25, when Pullman hosts the 2016 Apple Cup. This is a must-win game, not just because it comes against the primary rival of the Cougars, the Huskies, but because it could dictate which team wins the North Division. Winning the North guarantees a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game, with the winner of that game heading to the 2017 Rose Bowl on January 1.

Before hosting Washington, the Cougars have four more games against an interesting group of opponents. WSU plays Oregon State (Oct. 29), Arizona (Nov. 5), California (Nov. 12), and Colorado (Nov. 19). The game against Oregon State is going to air on ESPN2, with the expectation already in place that the prior game will run long, causing ESPN2 to miss the first few plays. The game is in Corvallis, but looks good on paper for another WSU win.

The toughest game of the four comes against the Colorado Buffaloes, as the team has posted a 6-2 record and his currently ranked No. 23 in the nation. Colorado was only able to score 10 points against Stanford this past weekend, though, which is a team that WSU scored 42 points against back on October 8. If the Cougars win their next three games and lose to Colorado, they can still make the Pac-12 title game by beating UW the following week.

There are going to be many more Washington State Cougars bowl projections in the coming weeks, especially if the team continues its winning streak against Pac-12 opponents. A dream scenario for the conference would be for the Cougars and Washington Huskies to remain undefeated in conference play leading into the Apple Cup. That would put everything on the line in what might be the most important matchup the schools have ever played against one another.

Can the Washington State Cougars finish the college football season strong and get an invite to the 2016 Rose Bowl?

[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]