It's good that Emerald Bowl executive director Gary Cavalli has a teenage daughter. Otherwise he might not have figured out what Pac-10 teams he can choose from this year.
Cavalli said he spent about four hours Sunday night trying to clarify how many possible scenarios are left in the conference race. That's when his daughter informed him there were 32 based on an algebraic equation.
"I scribbled them all down and tried to take the best guess of who was going to win each game, but I'm not sure the other bowls would agree with what I came up with," Cavalli said. "It's been a crazy season. Every game is a possibility."
The contract with the Pac-10 dictates that the Emerald Bowl can select either the fourth- or fifth-place team in the conference this season. The problem is there are still six bowl-eligible teams that could fall into those slots.
One of those teams is Cal, which made its first appearance in the Emerald Bowl last season and beat Miami 24-17 in front of a sellout crowd. Would Cavalli want Cal again? It might depend on the other choice.
The Emerald Bowl might also have a chance to select Stanford or USC, also appealing options. But he also said there is no disadvantage in having the same team in the game two years in a row.
"Objectively speaking, I'd rather not have the same team two years in a row, but not with Cal and Stanford," Cavalli said. "The opportunity to have Cal two years in a row would be unlike any other team."
It appears the Sun Bowl or Emerald Bowl are the Bears' most likely destinations. If USC wins its final two games, Oregon beats Oregon State and Cal beats Washington, the Ducks will win the Pac-10 and there would be a four-way tie for second place. In that scenario, the Holiday Bowl, which gets the second-place team, almost assuredly would select USC. The Sun Bowl gets the third-place team and is believed to be strongly interested in Cal, partly because the Bears are the only Pac-10 team never to play in the game.
If Oregon State beats Oregon, the Ducks would go to the Holiday Bowl and the Sun Bowl likely would choose USC, leaving the Emerald Bowl to choose among Cal, Stanford and either Arizona or UCLA.
But those scenarios presume USC wins out and Cal takes care of the Huskies. Arizona also could win its final two games and finish in a tie for second. Or USC and Arizona both could split their final two games and finish behind Cal, Stanford and Oregon State.
The bottom line is the Bears could play in one of five bowls — Holiday, Sun, Emerald, Las Vegas or Poinsettia. Cal played in the Holiday Bowl in 2004 and 2006.
"If Oregon beats Oregon State, there will be a spirited debate amongst our people about which course to follow," Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski said. "USC is appealing because we've never had them. But we know how Cal can deliver. We'll have to wait and see."
Note: Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for defense. Mohamed had 10 tackles and the game-clinching interception in the Bears' 34-28 win in Saturday's Big Game.