A loss by either USC or Arizona last weekend would have helped clear up Cal’s bowl picture at least a little bit. Of course, neither team could help out, so there are still several possible outcomes for the Bears. Here’s a rundown of each option:
Holiday Bowl (second place Pac-10): First, Oregon has to beat Oregon State on Thursday. Then Cal has to beat Washington. If that happens, Cal, Oregon State and Stanford will finish in a four-way tie for second place with the winner of Saturday’s USC-Arizona game. If it’s USC, sources have told me the Holiday Bowl will definitely select the Trojans. But if it’s Arizona, the Holiday Bowl committee will have an interesting decision to make. I’ve been told the bowl enjoyed having Cal as a participant in 2004 and 2006. But would they rather have somebody new? Arizona could be an interesting option for them because Tucson isn’t too far from San Diego. My guess it would be either Cal or Arizona over Stanford or Oregon State.
Sun Bowl (third place Pac-10): First, Oregon has to beat Oregon State. Then Cal has to beat Washington. If there is a four-way tie for second and the Holiday Bowl takes USC, I’m am almost certain the Sun Bowl would select Cal. The Bears are the only Pac-10 team never to play in the Sun Bowl and I know they are very interested in Cal. Same goes if the Holiday Bowl takes Arizona.
Emerald Bowl (fourth or fifth place Pac-10): Obviously, the Emerald Bowl loved having Cal last year as the game was played in front of a packed house and provided a good matchup with Miami, which drew in very good TV ratings. There are a couple of ways the Bears could wind up back in San Francisco. The first is if the Bears lose to Washington. That would put Cal in a tie for fifth place with the loser of the USC-Arizona game. The Emerald Bowl has the right to choose between the No. 4 and No. 5 team in the conference. That means it would be a choice between Cal and either Arizona or USC, plus whichever team isn’t selected by the Holiday or Sun Bowl. You would have to think the Emerald Bowl would strongly consider bring the Bears back again. But if it were a choice between Cal or USC or Cal or Stanford, it might make for a more challenging decision. The Bears could also fall to the Emerald Bowl even if they beat Washington. That could happen if Oregon State beats Oregon on Thursday, putting the Beavers in the Rose Bowl and the Ducks in the Holiday Bowl. That would make it a three-way tie for third place between Cal, Stanford and the USC/Arizona winner. The Sun Bowl would likely be very interested in USC, leaving the Emerald Bowl to choose between Cal, Stanford and Arizona.
Las Vegas Bowl (fourth or fifth place Pac-10): The Emerald Bowl and the Las Vegas Bowl take turns with the first pick each year, and the Emerald Bowl gets it this year. So Cal could wind up here under the scenarios described for the Emerald Bowl, if the Emerald Bowl didn’t choose Cal.
Poinsettia Bowl (sixth place Pac-10): The Poinsettia Bowl will get the last team left under all the previous scenarios described. So if the Bears were in a tie for fourth or fifth place and weren’t chosen by the Emerald or Vegas committees, they would end up here.