Football: Bowl scenarios

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┬áHoliday 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┬áthe 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.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • noduck

    Go Oregizona!

  • Steve W

    From a pure matchup standpoint, you have to hope for the Holiday or Sun bowls. Cal would likely play Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl or Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl. Both prognosticators at ESPN.com are projecting Cal and Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl. That would be a great game against a team that just destroyed rival Oklahoma State. The Nebraska game would also be exciting. The Emerald Bowl would pit Cal against a crummy team from the ACC, most likely 6-6 Florida State. Who wants to see that?

  • Pug

    I’d be happy with the Sun Bowl. The Bears have never been in the game and it is carried on CBS. A match up with Oklahoma on CBS would draw a big TV audience.

    Oklahoma would be a tough game, though.

  • milo

    Dang, El Paso is like 1,200 miles away. Oh well the likelihood of a road trip to a bowl game is much less. The plus side is Cal has recruited well in Texas and a game there against Okie would be good exposure for recruiting.

  • ToparchiBear

    If they are in the Sun Bowl, I hope Cal will be on top of the game and not be embarrassed in front of the Texas audience like the OSU did. Otherwise, even with good exposure, but, bad result in recruiting.

    Go Bears!

  • Jabes

    As much as any other season, Cal needs a quality bowl opponent to show which team is the “real Cal” for 2009. Any lower than Sun, that’s not very likely.

  • rollonubears

    This is so much more refreshing than praying for a last second shot at the Poinsettia bowl. Granted, this is just wikipedia, but…


    One bowl from 1959 to 1990?
    One bowl from 1993 until Tedford?
    One bowl EVERY YEAR since

    That’s some kinda awesome. I’m proud of this team. Especially how they turned things around this year. I waffle so much with Tedford because I feel like if he just had a killer instinct, we’d take things to the next level. I just need to remind myself over and over again, that if it was up to him, we’d already have a renovated stadium and workout facility. He stuck through all this crap, lobbying hard to get it all done. He’s gotten better with the players. He’s started to show a little emotion. He’s getting all the things we’ve ever wanted for the program, and he’s winning, consistently. I keep forgetting that we’re not 3-deep with 4-star players at every position. A couple injuries here and there cost us big time. That may change in the next 3 years, with new facilities. Add in a little bit more of a killer instinct from Tedford, and we’ll be talking about championships every year.

    Go Bears!

  • uh oh


    It bears to make mention that the Bowl system has vastly expanded in the past couple decades. It used to be that you went to the Rose or perhaps a secondary bowl, and that was it.

    Now that they have a bowl for the 6th place Pac10 team is a really different environment. Bowl games were reconized as being profitible exercises and so more and more bowls were born, so much so that the NCAA collectively agreed to make 6 wins be the minimum accomplishment required for playing a bowl game. That meant a winning record of 6-5 when the max games played was 11, but now with the expanded 12 game schedule, all you have to do is finish .500. Not very impressive.

    I think I counted the number of bowl games and D-1 teams a couple years ago and found that there were about 32 bowl games (64 teams) and about 130 D-1 football programs. So, nearly half of all D-1 programs get to play in a bowl game these days. It ain’t what it used to be.

    I’m still waiting for Rose – and hopefully if we win the Pac 10 and qualify for Rose, we don’t end up leapfrogging into the National Chumpionship game!

    I commend Tedford big time, because his record of Wins and Losses is WAY BETTER than Cal has experienced in a looooooooooooong time, and we have realistic hope of Rose each year! It will come, eventually!

  • Mindleftnumb

    From a pure party perspective, it’s all about the Vegas bowl.