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Arizona football: Biding time until bowl bid

Cats to find out in 6 days; NM Bowl likely candidate
2012-11-26T00:00:00Z 2014-08-04T17:18:01Z Arizona football: Biding time until bowl bidRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 26, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Their rivalry game is over and their bowl game is weeks away.

For the next week, the Arizona Wildcats are stuck playing the waiting game. For a program that prides itself on planning, it's a pretty helpless feeling.

"We've got a team meeting Monday. We've got finals coming up," first-year coach Rich Rodriguez said. "We'll regroup and try to finish the season off with a win."

The Wildcats won't know the specifics for another six days. It's their own fault.

Friday's 41-34 loss to Arizona State dropped the UA to 7-5 overall and 4-5 in Pac-12 play, numbers that put them eighth among the conference's bowl-eligible teams.

Oregon earned an at-large bid in a Bowl Championship Series game with its "Civil War" victory over Oregon State on Saturday, and the winner of this week's Pac-12 title game between Stanford and UCLA will play in the Rose Bowl.

The two BCS slots mean all bowl-eligible Pac-12 teams will find postseason homes.

On paper, Arizona appears headed for the Dec. 15 New Mexico Bowl. But deals can still be struck with a number of other games before Dec. 2, when the official bowl bids are announced. The Alamo Bowl selected the Wildcats over Washington in 2010, even though the Huskies had a better conference mark. It's possible that the Wildcats, with a big-name coach and star running back, would be appealing to someone.

Guard Trace Biskin said the bowl game - whatever it is - is "going to define the season for the seniors, going out on a high note."

Here's a look at Arizona's four likely destinations:

Sun Bowl

• Where: Dec. 31 in El Paso

• Matchup: Pac-12 No. 4 vs. ACC No. 4.

• Arizona's in if … after the Alamo and Holiday Bowls pick among three teams - the Pac-12 title game loser, Oregon State and USC - the Sun Bowl selects the Wildcats over the odd man out. Proximity to El Paso works in the UA's favor: Wildcats fans would presumably travel for the New Year's Eve day game.

• Not so fast: The Sun Bowl - and most mid-tier bowls - would jump at the chance to pick USC, a national brand that's sure to both travel well and draw eyeballs to television broadcasts. It's unclear what, if any, advantage the Wildcats would have over the Trojans.

• Its history: The UA has played in the Sun Bowl three times, going 0-2-1. Auburn beat the UA in 1968, Arizona and Georgia tied in 1985, and Baylor beat the Wildcats in 1992. The last game was formally called the John Hancock Bowl.

Las Vegas Bowl

• Where: Dec. 22 in Las Vegas

• Matchup: Pac-12 No. 5 vs. Mountain West No. 1

• Arizona's in if … the Alamo, Holiday and Sun bowls choose among the Pac-12 title game loser, Oregon State and USC, in any order. Las Vegas would then have its choice of the UA, Washington and Arizona State. Arizona beat the Huskies head-to-head but finished below them in the standings, and ASU played in last year's Las Vegas Bowl. It's possible - but not likely - that the Wildcats could be picked over the other two schools.

• Not so fast: Las Vegas Bowl executive director Dan Hanneke told the Star last week that he would be fine with another ASU appearance, if it came to that.

• Its history: Arizona played in the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl, defeating No. 17 BYU 31-21. Arizona fans invaded the city the week of the game, and for good reason: The postseason appearance was Arizona's first in 10 years.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

• Where: Dec. 29 in San Francisco

• Matchup: Pac-12 No. 6 against Navy

• Arizona's in if … Las Vegas chooses either Arizona State or Washington, and the UA somehow convinces Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl officials to choose the Wildcats over the conference's other remaining team. The Bay Area is packed with UA alumni, which works in Arizona's favor.

• Not so fast: It's unclear what edge the UA would have over ASU to a potential bowl partner - especially since the Sun Devils are coming off a head-to-head win.

• Its history: Arizona has never played in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl before. The 10-year-old game has hosted five Pac-12 teams in its history.

New Mexico Bowl

• Where: Dec. 15 in Albuquerque

• Matchup: Pac-12 No. 7 vs. Nevada. The Wolf Pack accepted a bid Sunday.

• Arizona's in if … The Pac-12's bowl partners choose their teams based solely on standings, or if certain games pick over their "slot" and the UA is still the last team standing.

• Not so fast: The Wildcats' basketball team hosts Florida that night in Tucson, the biggest home game of the nonconference season. Expect UA administrators to push hard to avoid a conflict.

• Its history: While Arizona has never played in the New Mexico Bowl before, it has plenty of history at University Stadium. The Wildcats have played 11 times at UNM's home field, going 6-5.

On StarNet: Follow the Cats on Ryan Finley's blog at azstarnet.com/finley

PAC-12 standings

South Conf. Overall

UCLA 6-3 9-3

USC 5-4 7-5

Arizona State 5-4 7-5

Arizona 4-5 7-5

Utah 3-6 5-7

Colorado 1-8 1-11

North Conf. Overall

Stanford 8-1 10-2

Oregon 8-1 11-1

Oregon State 6-3 8-3

Washington 5-4 7-5

California 2-7 3-9

Washington State 1-8 3-9

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
UCLA 6 2 0 0.750 9 2 0 0.818
ASU 6 2 0 0.750 9 2 0 0.818
Arizona 6 2 0 0.750 9 2 0 0.818
USC 6 3 0 0.667 7 4 0 0.636
Utah 4 4 0 0.500 7 4 0 0.636
Colorado 0 8 0 0.000 2 9 0 0.182

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Oregon 7 1 0 0.875 10 1 0 0.909
Stanford 4 4 0 0.500 6 5 0 0.545
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 6 0 0.455
Oregon State 2 5 0 0.286 5 5 0 0.500
Washington 2 5 0 0.286 6 5 0 0.545
Washington State 2 6 0 0.250 3 8 0 0.273
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