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NCAA approves UCLA bowl waiver

LOS ANGELES -- The NCAA has approved UCLA's request for a bowl game waiver, meaning the Bruins will remain bowl eligible should they lose to Oregon on Friday in the Pac-12 Conference championship game.

UCLA (6-6) finished the regular season bowl eligible, but a loss to Oregon would drop the Bruins below .500 and thus make them ineligible. Now, the Bruins will be among the pool of teams bowl selection committees can consider.

"As a program, we appreciate the NCAA approving our petition for a bowl waiver," UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. "We will be able to give our 18 seniors one more chance to represent their university and end their collegiate careers on a high note, regardless of the outcome of this Friday's Pac-12 Championship Game. We'd like to thank the NCAA for considering the unique situation in which we find ourselves this year and rewarding us with this opportunity."

UCLA fired coach Rick Neuheisel on Monday, though he will coach the team through the Pac-12 title game. Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson will coach UCLA in any bowl game.

North Texas in 2001 is the only team to play in a bowl game with a losing record, according to ESPN Stats and Information. The Mean Green finished the regular season 5-6 that year but won the Sun Belt Conference to earn a berth in the Sun Bowl, a game which they lost.

Should UCLA lose the conference championship game and advance to a bowl game and lose that, the Bruins would have the dubious honor of becoming the first team to ever finish a season with a 6-8 record.

Still, the Bruins said they felt they deserved to be eligible for a bowl.

"You take away the Pac-12 championship game and we're 6-6, and you go to a bowl game because you've earned the right to go to a bowl game," Johnson said.

The Pac-12 conference has seven bowl tie-ins and seven bowl-eligible teams. The winner of Friday's game between UCLA and Oregon will go to the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio and then the other bowls affiliated with the Pac-12 would select the teams in the following order: Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio), Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (San Diego), Hyundai Sun Bowl (El Paso), MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (San Francisco) and Gildan New Mexico Bowl.

They are not tied to conference standings, however, so if the Alamo Bowl wants the seventh-best Pac-12 team, its representatives can pick that team. The selection process takes place Sunday.

Peter Yoon covers UCLA for ESPNLosAngeles.com.