USC sees roses, but rest of bowl picture cloudy

By Arlie Rahn

Arizona Daily Wildcat

With just two games left in the college football season, the big mystery for the West Coast fan is which Pacific 10 Conference teams will get the coveted bowl bids. On that note, here is the bowl situation for the Pac-10.

First, of course, is the grand-daddy of them all, the Rose Bowl. This bid, in all likelihood, will go to Southern Cal. Washington and Oregon still have a chance, but they would need for the Trojans to lose their last two games, one of which is against Oregon State. Not likely.

At the start of the season, the setup was for either the Holiday or Cotton bowls to have the second crack at the Pac-10. The way things are shaping up right now, it looks as if the Cotton Bowl will win that battle. Before its loss to Arizona State last weekend, UCLA seemed to be the front-runner. But now, a solid finish by either Washington or Oregon might equal a plane ticket to Dallas.

The Sun Bowl will have the next choice in the bowl draft. Officials in San Antonio, Texas, will probably have their eyes on either Oregon or Washington, depending on the Cotton's selection. Stanford and UCLA might have a chance if they can win out and either the Ducks or the Huskies falter.

The final contractual bid will go to the Aloha Bowl. Right now, this bowl picture is a collage of four teams, with Stanford (5-3-1 overall), UCLA (6-3), Arizona (5-4) and Arizona State (5-4) all tied for fourth at 3-3 in the conference. UCLA would be the favorite because of its non-conference record, but the Bruins still have to finish with Washington and USC. With that in mind, the leader is probably Stanford, having Pac-10 cellar-dwellers Washington State and California left to play on its schedule.

The important thing to remember, however, is that the Cotton, Sun and Aloha bowl bids do not necessarily go to the second, third and fourth teams in the conference. They go to the three teams chosen by the individual bowls. So teams such as UCLA might be chosen over other schools because of their location in the media center of Los Angeles.

While these are the only contractual bids for the Pac-10, the teams left out still have hope. There is one open bid in the Independence Bowl that could go to any team officials can snare. Also, the Liberty Bowl has a vacancy because the Big East conference is unable to fulfill its half of the field. While the strength of the conference has not been the best, a 2-0 finish by Arizona could send the Wildcats bowling.

Speaking of teams in the bowl hunt, Arizona State continued to stay alive with a 37-33 win against UCLA last weekend. The Sun Devils, who were 1-3 in the conference two weeks ago, are now tied for fourth at 3-3.

"We could get used to this. We should make a habit out of it," ASU coach Bruce Snyder said. "It was a great game from a coach's standpoint in terms of a football team hanging in there. I think you saw the real Sun Devils in the second half."

Arizona State wide receiver Keith Poole continued to show the Pac-10 he is one of the conference's top receivers with nine receptions for 167 yards and a touchdown. Combine that with quarterback Jake Plummer's second 300-yard game of his career and the end result was a potent passing attack.

"It's a great feeling for me personally to know that I'm surrounded by warriors, guys that will fight through every situation," Plummer said.

After falling behind 27-10 at half, the Sun Devils went on a 16-0 run in the third quarter and ended up outscoring the Bruins 27-6 in the second half.

The key play of the game might have been a fourth-quarter ASU safety that not only got the team two points, but got the Sun Devils another possession in the fourth quarter.

"We ran a reverse and Derek (Ayers) tried to outflank the defense," UCLA coach Terry Donahue said. "The defense had the play snuffed out, it appeared, and he tried to use his speed and he shouldn't have done that. It was a very crucial play."

Read Next Article