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With loss, Utes' bowl picture muddled

Prior to Friday's game, it seemed like Utah was pretty much a lock for either the Alamo or Holiday Bowl. That isn't the case anymore and now it's unclear where the Utes will land this holiday season. 

One loss and they've started tumbling down the bowl ladder. Where will they land?

It's still possible, I guess, Utah does end up in either the Alamo or Holiday and they should be aided by Stanford's win over Notre Dame, which all but locks the Cardinal up in a BCS bowl game. Outside a stunning upset by UCLA in the Pac-12 title game (ugh), Oregon is on their way to Pasadena for the new year - so that's two potential bowl threats playing in the BCS. An ineligible USC helps a lot too, as does UCLA's potential 6-7 finish. 

My guess is that the Alamo takes Washington, which is a bigger name than Utah and has an identical record. It doesn't hurt they're coming off a victory, though San Antonio is certainly closer to Salt Lake City than it is Seattle (by 838 miles) and maybe, though unlikely, they decide to take Utah due to travel proximity. 

A week ago, it looked like if Utah wasn't a lock for the Alamo Bowl, they would certainly fall no further than the Holiday. 

But it's likely, given the option, the Holiday Bowl gobbles up Cal, who's located in the same state, therefore could bring the fans, and enters far hotter the last few weeks than the Utes. It's really hard imagining the Holiday Bowl bypassing Cal for either Utah or Arizona State. It could happen, I guess, but I wouldn't expect it. 

That leaves the Sun Bowl. Utah hasn't played here since a 26-0 victory over New Mexico in 1939 and certainly it's the most prestigious of the bowl games left after the Alamo & Holiday - but it's also one we kind of ruled out the past few weeks as the Utes slowly increased their bowl options with every victory they strung together.

Remarkable how one defeat can undo all that. 

But it appears this is the odds-on favorite destination for Utah. Not an ideal place to travel, but at least the bowl game carries some clout. 

Since the remaining teams are hardly an attractive option (UCLA might not even be granted a waver to play in a bowl game, ASU will enter the postseason with an epic collapse and no head coach), it really is hard envisioning a scenario where they do drop below the Sun Bowl. 

IF that happens, as unlikely as it may be, then Utah is off to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco to play either Nevada or a .500 ACC team.


So there you have it. Utah's bowl options in light of their loss Friday night.

Not as rosy, but still salvageable.