I've got a number of questions as how the bowl season is shaping up for the Bears and for the Pac-10. With Oregon State’s Loss to Oregon on Saturday in the Civil War game, the once crowded bowl picture is beginning to look a bit more clear, at least at the top. Keep in mind that most bowl invitations have yet to be handed out, so a number of these scenarios could change. Also, I’m less knowledgeable when it comes to opponents for these bowl games, so I’ll run with what ESPN currently has with their projections. Don’t like their opponents? Take it out on them.
But here’s how I’m expecting the situation to fold out.
Rose Bowl: USC vs. Penn State
With a USC win over UCLA (and let’s face it, USC is going to crush UCLA), the Trojans are all but pegged in for an annual romp over the Big 10 champ. This year’s victim? Penn State.
I know, I know. Big 10 fan “But this year will be different! Penn State is the real deal!”
Yes Penn State is a quality team. But expect them to bend over for the Trojans like every other “quality” Big Ten team in years past (Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois).
By the way, this is less of a lovefest over the Trojans than it is an honest indication of what I think of the Big 10.
The Trojans do run an very small chance of squeaking into the BCS Championship game, but it’s all but finalized that the title game will consist of the SEC Champs (Florida or Alabama) and either Oklahoma, Texas, or Texas Tech from the Big 12. My money’s on the Sooners. Unfortunately.
Holiday Bowl: Oregon Ducks vs. Missouri
The Pac-10’s second place team, the Oregon Ducks, are going to be enjoying another December trip in sunny San Diego, most likely against the team I had projected to being in the championship game this year, Missouri. Whoops.
You thought Saturday’s game against the Beavers was a high scoring affair? Watch out for this matchup. You take the nation’s 4th best scoring offense (Missouri – 45.0 PPG) vs the nation’s 7th best scoring offense in the Ducks (41.9) and look for muchos puntos.
Wait, does “punto” mean point or is a derogatory term for a homosexual? Dangit…five years of Spanish and for what?
Sun Bowl: Oregon State Beavers vs. Pittsburgh
This one gets a tiny bit sketchier. While it’s most likely that the conference’s 3rd ranked team will fall in its due spot in the Sun Bowl, there are a few potential quandaries in the way.
The Sun Bowl could choose to go with Arizona, because of their geographic proximity, and the likely crowd that would follow. But it’d be hard to justify passing over two teams who are ranked higher in the conference than the Wildcats.
The Beavers vs. the Panthers it is!
Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona vs. TCU
Emerald Bowl: Cal vs. Miami
Alright, so here’s where some of the icky stuff begins hitting the fan. Normally, Cal would be the natural pick for the Vegas Bowl. You take the team in 4th place standing in the conference and throw them in the Vegas Bowl.
But here’s the thing: Each year the Vegas Bowl and the Emerald Bowl switch off with first dibs, and while the Las Vegas Bowl has it this year, it’s been no secret that the Emerald Bowl, which holds its game in AT&T Park in San Francisco, is squirming in its pants to have a Bay Area team in the game.
Naturally, that could have been Stanford but…oh wait—oh yeah...Cal crushed Stanford, thereby ending the Cardinal’s bowl dreams.
So, the Emerald Bowl’s man crush has focused squarely on Cal, and it’s pretty likely at this point that the Bears will make the 30 minute drive over to Candlestick park, a stadium that somehow matches Memorial Stadium in its antiquated amenities and also features 20 minute walks from the parking lot to the stands. At least Berkeley has a BART station near by.
So that would leave the Wildcats to face off against a solid TCU squad in the Vegas Bowl.
I know a number of Bears fans have told me their strong preference to play in the Las Vegas Bowl. It sure does make for a more fun bowl trip. There’s also a disparity in bowl payouts to the tune of a few hundred thousand. And it’s always nicer to face a ranked team.
Is there a chance the Bears land in the Vegas Bowl? Possibly. But I wouldn’t go booking any flights just yet. Instead, I’d be ready for some Candlestick loving (that just sounds bad) and a night out at the bars (win or lose).
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii vs. Arizona State
The Sun Devils can still crack this bowl if they pull off an upset over the Wildcats and--ah no one cares.