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November 10, 2008

(UA 59, at WSU 28)

NOW we can talk about bowl games.

Weíre in! Itís official! They canít leave us out no matter how much we stink the rest of the way. A bowl bid is now Arizona-proof.

Just in case you havenít heard, the numbers break down like this: The Pac-10 has seven bowl tie-ins. Washington and WSU have already locked up losing seasons. UCLA and ASU both have six losses, and they still play each other. It is mathematically impossible for the Pac-10 to have more bowl eligible teams than available bowl slots this year, so six wins is all you need.


Now the fun begins. We get to spend the next four weeks speculating about our postseason destination.


From here on out weíll break down the up-to-the-minute scenarios each week.

THE ARIó OK, Iíll stop.

First, letís get one thing straight. The Rose Bowl is out. With USC beating Cal (Look, Ma, no catch!) we have no chance of backing into a three-way tiebreaker for the championship. It wouldíve been fun to hold onto for another week or two, but itís gone.

And donít get caught up in the ďWhat if USC goes to the BCS Championship Game and weíre in second place??Ē talk. You have to finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings to be eligible for an at-large selection to a BCS game. Beating a three-loss Oregon team, a three-loss Oregon State team and a six-loss Arizona State team wouldnít be enough to go from unranked to top 14. If USC is in the title game and Arizona is in second place, weíll be in the Holiday Bowl and the Rose Bowl will have to pick someone else.

Therefore, without further ado, here are your potential winter football getaways:

2nd place Ė Holiday Bowl Ė San Diego Ė Tue. Dec. 30, 5 p.m. Pacific
3rd place Ė Sun Bowl Ė El Paso Ė Wed. Dec. 31, 12 p.m. Mountain
4th place Ė Las Vegas Bowl Ė Guess Ė Sat. Dec. 20, 5 p.m. Pacific
5th place Ė Emerald Bowl Ė San Francisco Ė Sat. Dec. 27, 5 p.m. Pacific
6th place Ė Hawaii Bowl Ė Honolulu Ė Wed. Dec. 24, 3 p.m. Hawaii Time
7th place Ė Poinsettia Bowl - San Diego Ė Tue. Dec. 23, 5 p.m. Pacific

If the season ended today (drum roll, please), the Arizona Wildcats would be going toÖ


The Cats are tied with Cal for 4th place, and the thought here is Arizona would be a better draw, and the Emerald Bowl would negotiate to get the hometown Bears.

Itís worth noting that if things stay the way they are with USC and OSU each having only one league loss, the Beavers would go to the Rose Bowl and the Trojans would be the one Pac team good enough to qualify for an at-large BCS bid. Arizona canít be bumped up to the Rose Bowl, but we can move up to any other Pac-10 bowl.

Isnít it great? We canít jinx our team with bowl talk. We donít have to worry about counting our chickens before they hatch because theyíre already running around and peeping. Now itís just a matter of how big our little chicks grow.

No, it wasnít a pretty win at Washington State. Yes, we gave up three and a half gamesí worth of points to the woeful Cougars, but I donít care.

You know who else doesnít care? The six Arizona senior classes that didnít get to play in a bowl game. Bobby Wade, Lance Briggs, Mike Bell, Spencer Larson, Antoine Cason and so many more. All those guys gave their all for the UA but none were able to experience the postseason. Somebody had to break the streak, and thankfully itís Willie Tuitama, Mike Thomas, Ronnie Palmer, Nate Ness, and the 2008 Wildcats.

Another impressive feat this weekend is the fact that our eight touchdowns were scored by seven different players. If I wanted to get political, Iíd say our President-Elect would be proud.

Seriously now, celebration aside (and there should be much celebration), there is no reason to be satisfied with six wins. In fact, if you look back youíll see this win eliminates the possibility of even 7-6 being good enough. I said I would only be happy with a 7-6 season if we were 5-6 going into the ASU game. That is no longer possible so itís now eight wins or pouting for this Cat fan.

It wonít be easy. Next up is a road trip to face an Oregon team that appears to be tailor-made to give us fits.

Big running back? Check.
Change-of-pace speed back? Check.
Mobile QB? Check.
Hostile environment? Check.
Should we be nervous? Double check.

Then you have the team that controls its own destiny for the Rose Bowl, and after that itís a team that just may be on a bit of a roll by the time we see them. ASU won on the road this week so I fully expect them to win their next two at home and come into Tucson riding a three-game winning streak with a bowl bid still at stake. That would be a very interesting subplot, especially since we didnít do so well the last time we had a chance to knock them out of a bowl.

But they canít knock us out of a bowl.


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