UA FOOTBALL

Arizona football: Cats feel they're an attractive bowl pick

2012-12-02T00:00:00Z 2014-08-04T17:17:31Z Arizona football: Cats feel they're an attractive bowl pickRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 02, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Think about the Arizona Wildcats' bowl chances too much, and your head hurts. There are too many possibilities, locations and opponents for constructive, much less concise, analysis.

The Pac-12's bowl partners care more about two other body parts, anyway: butts and eyeballs.

Tonight's bowl selections will come down to which programs can put more of the former in seats and can attract more of the latter to the television broadcast. Teams' records matter, but only so much.

It's one of the reasons why UA athletic director Greg Byrne spent the last week reaching out to the four games that could select the Wildcats tonight: the Sun, Las Vegas, Kraft Fight Hunger and New Mexico bowls.

His message: The UA will travel, especially if the game is within driving distance from Tucson. And the Wildcats (7-5 overall, 4-5 Pac-12) have enough compelling storylines, from Ka'Deem Carey's quest for the national rushing title to first-year coach Rich Rodriguez's redemption tale.

Rodriguez, not surprisingly, said he likes the case for Arizona.

"I think (bowls) look at everything: TV ratings, fan following, matchups against who you're playing," he said. "There are four (Pac-12) teams that are 7-5 that are going to those four bowls. We could have controlled our destiny by winning one more (game). Or two more. Or three more.

"It's not in our control. That's what happens when you don't win all your games."

That's the catch.

While the Wildcats are undeniably happy to qualify for a bowl after missing the postseason in 2011, three close losses have sullied what could have been a special season.

Arizona lost to Pac-12 champion Stanford by six points in overtime and fell to Oregon State when the Beavers scored a last-minute touchdown. The UA was leading - and driving - in last week's rivalry game when quarterback Matt Scott fumbled. Arizona State recovered, sparking an improbable rally that ended with a 41-34 Sun Devils win.

The bowl uncertainty is "kind of our fault," Scott said Friday.

"We really can't blame anybody else," he said. "If we would have won, we would have probably already known (the destination). We're happy to go to any bowl game. I'm happy to go anywhere. It's another game with these guys and my last game with these guys. Where, it doesn't matter either way."

Carey agreed. With a win in a bowl game, any bowl game, the Wildcats can secure a tie for their most wins in a season since 1998. Given Arizona's "culture change," not to mention its struggling defense, eight wins would soothe some frayed nerves.

Better, it'd be good for the soul.

"I feel like this bowl game is one of our key games. It's most important to people what we're made of," Carey said. "A bowl game is a bowl game. I'm excited to play another game. It's a God bless."

Wanna drive? Gas up the car

316

Miles from the University of Arizona to El Paso's Sun Bowl Stadium

398

Miles from the UA to Sam Boyd Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Bowl

447

Miles to Albuquerque's University Stadium, home of the New Mexico Bowl

865

Miles to AT&T Park, home of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Arizona's postseason possibilities

Here's a quick look at Arizona's bowl options:

Sun Bowl

• Where: Dec. 31 in El Paso

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

• Pluses: The Sun Bowl is shown nationally on CBS, and El Paso is a relatively short drive from Tucson. Plus, the Wildcats would be playing three games above its "slot" game, the New Mexico Bowl.

• Minuses: The Wildcats could face Georgia Tech, which has been given an NCAA waiver to play in the postseason even if it finishes 6-7, which it did after losing Saturday.

• Odds: 10-to-1

Las Vegas Bowl

• Where: Dec. 22 in Las Vegas

• Matchup: Pac-12 No. 5 vs. either Boise State or Fresno State

• Pluses: Um, it's Las Vegas. No bowl city outside of Pasadena stirs such excitement in UA fans.

• Minuses: Boise State, the likely Mountain West Conference representative in the game, has won the last two Las Vegas Bowls by a combined score of 82-27.

• Odds: 4-to-1

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

• Where: Dec. 29 in San Francisco

• Matchup: Pac-12 No. 6 vs. Navy

• Pluses: The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl takes place exactly two weeks after the New Mexico Bowl and one week after Las Vegas, giving the UA more invaluable practice time leading up to the game.

• Minuses: Navy, like Georgia Tech, runs the triple-option offense. Given Arizona's struggles against the run - the Wildcats rank 90th out of 120 teams nationally in rushing yards allowed - it could make for a long day.

• Odds: 5-to-1

New Mexico Bowl

• Where: Dec. 15 in Albuquerque

• Matchup: Pac-12 No. 7 vs. Nevada

• Pluses: An Arizona-Nevada matchup New Mexico Bowl would pit the nation's two top rushers in yards per game, Ka'Deem Carey and Stefphon Jefferson, against each other. It would make for a compelling storyline in an otherwise nondescript game.

• Minuses: The timing is terrible. Arizona would have only two weeks to prepare for Nevada, would have to take finals during game-week, and those who graduate this month - such as QB Matt Scott - would be forced to miss the ceremony. A scheduled Dec. 15 basketball home game against Florida could split many UA fans' loyalties.

• Odds: 2-to-1

Today

BCS selection show

• When: 6:30 p.m.

• TV: ESPN

College football bowl selection

• When: 7:30 p.m.

• TV: ESPN

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


Pac-12 South football standings

Team W L T PCT
Arizona 5 1 0 0.833
Utah 5 1 0 0.833
USC 5 2 0 0.714
ASU 5 1 0 0.833
UCLA 5 2 0 0.714
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429

Pac-12 North football standings

Team W L T PCT
Oregon 6 1 0 0.857
Oregon State 4 2 0 0.667
Stanford 4 3 0 0.571
Washington 5 2 0 0.714
Cal 4 3 0 0.571
Washington State 2 5 0 0.286
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