After ASU, conference bowl picture muddled

By Kevin Clerici
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 5, 1996

Arizona Daily Wildcat

California's Pat Barnes set a Pacific 10 Conference record last Saturday with eight touchdown passes and 503 yards of total offense, the third best in Pac-10 history, in the Bears' 56-55, four-overtime win over Arizona. Cal faces Arizona State in Tempe on Saturday.


Arizona's dramatic loss to California in the fourth overtime not only drained the Wildcats to the emotional limit, but numerically ended any chance for a Jan. 1 bowl game.

With only a handful of games left to be played, the Pacific 10 Conference bowl picture is starting to take shape.

Arizona State is 6-0 in the conference and can clinch the berth for the 83rd Rose Bowl with a win over Cal Saturday in Tempe. A Golden Bear win would put the Sun Devils into a tie with Washington for first, given that the Huskies beat Oregon State Saturday. The Sun Devils' previous win over Washington, as well as their overall record, would keep ASU on track for the Roses, but would make the UA-ASU game all the more important.

The second-place finisher will either be invited to the Jan. 1 Cotton Bowl in Dallas or the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 31 in San Diego.

With the proposed Haka Bowl canceled due to a missed financial deadline, the third place team no longer will travel to tropical New Zealand but rather the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

The Aloha Bowl in Honolulu will be played on Christmas and will feature the Pac-10's fourth-place team.

If Pac-10 play had ended Saturday, it would break down something like this: the Sun Devils in the Rose Bowl, Washington in either the Cotton or the Holiday, Cal in the Sun and Washington State in the Aloha.

Confused yet?

If No. 4 Arizona State wins the rest of its games, it will be forced to play in the Rose Bowl due to a conference commitment, rather than have a chance to be invited to the Sugar Bowl, where the national championship game is played this season. The Pac-10 has agreed to become a member of the Bowl Alliance following this season. That opens the option for a Pac-10 team to accept a berth into the national championship game, wherever it may be, given that it is not in the Rose Bowl. Last year's national championship game was the Fiesta Bowl, this year is the Sugar, and the Rose Bowl won't be the site until the year 2002.

Got all that?

Quarterbacks, quarterbacks, quarterbacks.

Jake Plummer is getting the Heisman attention, but a host of Pac-10 quarterbacks are putting together record-breaking seasons.

Cal's Pat Barnes is doing it weekly. His eight touchdown passes against Arizona Saturday is a conference record and his 503 yards of total offense was the third highest in Pac-10 history. That barely outdid UA quarterback Keith Smith's 502, which he recorded in the same game.

"Barnes is one the most talented quarterbacks in the league," UA head coach Dick Tomey said - before the Wildcats had even faced him.

Nationally, four Pac-10 quarterbacks have a top 25 rating, with Barnes in eighth place with 153.9, Plummer in 17th with 143.1, Smith in 18th with 142.8 and Washington State's Ryan Leaf in 22nd with 140.8. Florida's Danny Wuerffel is first in the nation with a pass-efficiency rating of 185.3.

Pac-10 defenses are being torn apart on a weekly basis, but don't tell Washington's Jason Chorak.

The junior linebacker is just one sack away from the Husky record of 13.

The next closest player in the conference is Stanford's Kallee Wong with nine. Arizona's best is six by Joe Salave'a.

"I don't think that anybody can teach it to you," Chorak said of his pass rushing style. "It's like a shark in the sea, sneaking up on you. All of a sudden you are crunched."

Former UA All-America Tedy Bruschi's best statistical sack season was in 1993, when he finished with 18. In his senior year he had 14.5 sacks to give him 52 in his career, including bowl games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.