SAN FRANCISCO — The 111th Big Game on Saturday will be a showdown between one team trying to get eligible for a bowl and another trying to figure out to which bowl game it's going.
While Stanford needs one more victory to be considered for a bowl, there are still a multitude of scenarios that could leave Cal in several different postseason games.
The Bears (6-4, 4-3 Pac-10) still could wind up in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 30, a spot penciled in for the second-place team in the Pac-10. Cal, which begins the week tied for fourth place, can't finish second, but the Bears could tie Oregon for third if Oregon State wins the conference and goes to the Rose Bowl and USC places second and is picked for a Bowl Championship Series game. In that event, the Holiday Bowl would get its choice between the Bears and Ducks.
Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski said Monday that Cal likely would get the bid because it won the head-to-head matchup against Oregon.
"Historically, what we do in the case of a tie is look at who had the edge head-to-head," Binkowski said. "It's pretty difficult to not take the team that won."
When asked if there was any reason to believe the Holiday Bowl would change that criteria this season, Binkowski said: "No. It's the right thing to do."
That, of course, is assuming a lot. The Bears have to win their final two games, starting with Stanford on Saturday. Cal closes the season Dec. 6 at home against Washington. The Huskies enter Saturday's game at Washington State at 0-10.
If Oregon State doesn't win the conference, the Pac-10 will get only one team in a BCS game (Rose Bowl). In that situation, the Beavers or Oregon will finish second and go to the Holiday Bowl. As many as three teams could tie for third place, which brings with it a berth in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, on New Year's Eve.
Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas said in the event of a tie the selection committee would look at head-to-head results, national rankings and which team made the least recent trip to the game.
"A lot of bowls look at who is going to travel the most people, but we're not like that," said Olivas, who added that about 80 percent of tickets typically go to local residents. "We're just trying to get the best game possible."
Cal is the only Pac-10 team never to play in the Sun Bowl.
Assuming the Bears beat Washington, the worst they would finish in the Pac-10 is 5-4, which could drop them to as low as tied for fifth in the standings. That likely would put Cal in the Emerald Bowl at AT&T Park on Dec. 27, although the committee could also pick Stanford, which would be one of the other teams tied for fifth in that scenario.
"We would love to have either of the local teams," Emerald Bowl executive director Gary Cavalli said Monday at the annual Big Game press luncheon. "The last two years people are starting to become more aware of the Emerald Bowl. This will be part of our continued effort to raise our profile in the Bay Area, and getting one of those two teams would be a dream come true."
Notes: Cal seniors Will Ta'ufo'ou and Rulon Davis called a players-only meeting Monday morning. "Guys were just talking that we need to pick it up and finish the season out strong," Cal linebacker Worrell Williams said. ... Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea and kick returner James Rodgers were named Pac-10 Players of the Week for their performances during the Beavers' 34-21 win over Cal on Saturday.
Contact Jonathan Okanes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bowl Pac-10 Opponent Date TV
Rose No. 1 Big Ten Jan. 1 ABC
Holiday No. 2 Big 12 Dec. 30 ESPN
Sun No. 3 Big 12/Big East/Notre Dame Dec. 31 CBS
Las Vegas Nos. 4 or 5 Mountain West Dec. 20 ESPN
Emerald Nos. 4 or 5 ACC Dec. 27 ESPN
Hawai'i No. 6 WAC Dec. 24 ESPN
Ponsettia No. 7 Mountain West Dec. 23 ESPN
NOTE: If the Pac-10 champion is ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the final Bowl Championship Series rankings, it would play in the BCS National Championship Game hosted by the FedEx Orange Bowl.
W L W L
USC 7 1 9 1
Oregon St. 6 1 7 3
Oregon 6 2 8 3
Arizona 4 3 6 4
Cal 4 3 6 4
Stanford 4 4 5 6
Arizona St. 3 4 4 6
UCLA 3 4 4 6
Washington 0 7 0 10
Washington St. 0 8 1 10
Stanford at Cal, 12:30 p.m.
Washington at Washington St., noon
Oregon St. at Arizona, 4 p.m.