WHAT? The Arizona State Sun Devils could still be invited to a bowl game

Posted at 2:22 PM, Dec 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-17 08:18:19-05

The Arizona State Sun Devils' 2016 season ended with six straight losses, including an embarrassing defeat to lowly UA in the annual Territorial Cup game.

But since the season ended, things have been looking up for the Sun Devils. For starters, they've snagged some top-tier recruits, including former Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett.

And now, as the bowl season gets set to begin, there's a chance that the Sun Devils could receive an extremely belated bowl invitation -- specifically, the Holiday Bowl in San Diego vs. Washington State on Dec. 27. 

It's unlikely, but not outside of the realm of possibility. Here's how it could happen: 

After 10 of their teammates were suspended during an ongoing sexual assault investigation, Minnesota Golden Gophers players decided to protest those suspensions by boycotting all team-related activities, which could include their scheduled Holiday Bowl matchup with the Cougars.

In that case, the NCAA would go down the list of teams that went 5-7 during the 2016 season to find a replacement. The pecking order is based on each team's collective Academic Progress rate, from highest to lowest.

At the top of that list is Northern Illinois -- but according to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, "school sources have made it clear that it would be difficult for the Huskies to play. The last day of exams was Dec. 9."

Next up after Northern Illinois would be ASU or Cal, both of which went 5-7 and have an APR of 970 this season. For what it's worth, ASU beat Cal 51-41 in Tempe on Sept. 24.

The Sun Devils have played in the Holiday Bowl four times, and they came up short each time. Most recently, they lost to Texas Tech 37-23 in 2013.

ASU and Washington State have already faced off this season. The Cougars beat the Devils 37-32 in Tempe on Oct. 22.

Even if the Devils were to receive an invitation, they would likely face the same situation Northern Illinois is facing. Many players have already gone home for the holidays, making last-minute coordination of a bowl game extremely difficult.

Even so: The fact that ASU is still sort of, kind of in bowl contention is a crazy thought -- and it's certainly something to keep an eye on if you're a Sun Devil fan.