Arizona’s updated bowl scenariosby Anthony Gimino on Nov. 29, 2009, under Sports
Arizona’s 20-17 win at Arizona State guaranteed the Wildcats a spot somewhere in the Pac-10′s bowl affiliations.
Exactly where is still a big mystery.
It won’t be the Rose, but Arizona could land in any of the five remaining bowls. This much is almost perfectly clear: A loss at USC on Saturday means the Wildcats will be going to the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 23.
The Pac-10 will have only six qualified teams for its bowls. UCLA finished 6-6 and can be placed as an at-large team in another bowl if there are no more teams with winning records available.
Just a refresher course on Pac-10 bowls:
After the Rose Bowl takes the champion, the Holiday has to take the second-place team. The bowl gets its choice of tied teams.
And so it is down the line: The Sun Bowl gets the third-place team, the Emerald gets the fourth-place team, the Las Vegas Bowl gets No. 5 and the Poinsettia gets the sixth-place team.
The Emerald and Las Vegas bowls can switch teams if both sides agree.
It looks to me, given bowl preferences among potentially tied teams, that it’s not likely for Arizona to land in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco, or in Las Vegas for the second consecutive year.
But the Holiday and Sun are in play — if the Cats win Saturday in the Los Angeles Coliseum, where the Trojans have lost only twice in the past eight seasons (both to Stanford).
Let’s try to break it down:
Pac-10 games remaining
Oregon State at Oregon (Thursday)
Arizona at USC (Saturday)
Cal at Washington (Saturday)
If Oregon and Arizona win
Arizona will finish 6-3 and tie for second with Oregon State, Stanford and possibly Cal. The Holiday Bowl would have its pick among the tied teams, with the Wildcats looking good because it will be coming off a win over USC and Tucson fans figure to travel well to San Diego.
Stanford, on the other hand, has a TV draw with running back Toby Gerhart and charismatic coach Jim Harbaugh. If Cal wins, it would have a better overall record, a higher ranking than Arizona and a larger TV market, but a more apathetic fan base (ditto on the last part for Stanford).
Hard to say what the Holiday Bowl would do.
(The Holiday opponent would be Nebraska if the Cornhuskers lose to Texas in the Big 12 title game. Arizona-Nebraska? A rematch of the 1998 Holiday? Sounds good to me.)
If Oregon State and Arizona win
The best Arizona can do is tie for third, and the Wildcats would look geographically attractive to the fine folks who run the El Paso bowl. And consider this: The most likely team on the other side is Oklahoma, and a Stoops vs. Stoops storyline would be postseason gold.
If Arizona loses and Cal wins
Arizona finishes sixth and will be locked into the Poinsettia Bowl against a Mountain West Conference opponent, likely Utah.
If Arizona loses and Cal loses
The Wildcats and Bears would tie for fifth, but it’s hard to see Cal slipping past the home-area Emerald Bowl, leaving Arizona in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Anthony Gimino can be reached at anthonygimino (at) gmail.com