Which bowl game is on the horizon for UCLA football?

UCLA's bowl game will be the career finale for seniors such as Jordan Payton, the team's all-time receptions leader. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA’s bowl game will be the career finale for seniors such as Jordan Payton, the team’s all-time receptions leader. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

After losing to USC on Saturday, UCLA receiver Jordan Payton framed the bowl game as a chance to “put the program back in the right direction.”

As a refresher, here are the Pac-12’s bowl tie-ins, in order of selection:

1. Rose Bowl
2. Alamo Bowl
3. Holiday Bowl
4. Foster Farms Bowl
5. Sun Bowl
6. Las Vegas Bowl
7. Cactus Bowl

Since it doesn’t serve as a playoff semifinal this year, the Rose Bowl will simply take the Pac-12 champion. If that champion ends up in the playoff — only Stanford has a chance — then the bowl will take the next-highest-ranked team out of the conference. Either scenario puts UCLA in the range to go as high as the Holiday Bowl and as low as the Las Vegas Bowl.

Important note: While the top bowls in the order can take teams within one game of the best available conference record, the Sun, Las Vegas, and Cactus Bowls do not have such leeway. They only have a choice between multiple teams with the same record.

Holiday Bowl | Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego) | Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m.

UCLA likely won’t be heading to San Diego for bowl season, but the Bruins shouldn’t be counted out entirely. With the third selection out of the Pac-12, the Holiday Bowl should get their pick of the three 6-3 teams — Utah, USC and Washington State — assuming that Stanford and Oregon end up in the Rose and Alamo Bowls, respectively. UCLA is technically eligible at 5-4, but executive director Mark Neville all but ruled out the Bruins, telling the OC Register that the Holiday Bowl would be more likely to take the Trojans a second straight year.

Foster Farms Bowl | Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara) | Dec. 26, 6:15 p.m.

Even with a 5-4 record, UCLA could be an intriguing option to play in Santa Clara. Foster Farms Bowl executive director Gary Cavalli said the factor that works in the Bruins’ favor is proximity: There’s a strong UCLA alumni presence in the Bay Area, and even fans in Los Angeles could easily make the drive. Continue reading “Which bowl game is on the horizon for UCLA football?” »