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Breaking down Oregon State's bowl possibilities

It'll be 'San' somewhere for Beavers; Holiday Bowl covets them, Alamo Bowl also in the mix


If UCLA beats Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game Friday night, the Cardinal will be the conference’s entry in the Alamo Bowl Dec. 29 at San Antonio.

If Stanford wins, it could be either the Bruins or Oregon State, depending on a number of variables that will be ironed out by this weekend.

Rick Hill, vice president/marketing and communications for the Alamo Bowl, said Tuesday the selection process will be completed Sunday following ESPN’s BCS Bowl Games Selection Show at 5:30 p.m.

For sure, Hill said, the Beavers “are going to San something.”

To either San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl as the Pac-12’s No. 3 team or to San Diego for the Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl as the conference’s No. 4 club.

That is assuming that Oregon — currently slotted at No. 5 in the BCS rankings — lands a BCS bowl bid, which would seem to be a given. The likely spot for the Ducks is the Jan. 3 Fiesta Bowl.

If Stanford beats UCLA, the Cardinal will advance to the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl against the Big Ten champion.

In that case, the Alamo Bowl would pick between UCLA (9-4 overall, 6-3 in Pac-12 action) and Oregon State, which would be 9-3 and 6-3 with a win Saturday over Nicholls State at Reser Stadium. The Beavers beat the Bruins 27-20 at Pasadena on Sept. 22.

Even with the Beavers’ slight edge in overall record and a head-to-head victory, they wouldn’t necessarily get the nod over the Bruins by the Alamo Bowl committee.

“We’re purposely not leaning one way or the other, because we don’t know the matchup,” Hill said.

The Pac-12 representative would face the No. 3 team from the Big 12. That would likely be either Texas or Oklahoma State, though four other schools — Texas Christian, Texas Tech, Baylor and West Virginia — could be under consideration, Hill said. Kansas State (10-1, 7-1) and Oklahoma (9-2, 7-1) are the top two Big 12 teams.

An important round of Big 12 games Saturday will decide things. Texas (8-3, 5-3) plays at Kansas State, Baylor (6-5, 3-5) is at Oklahoma State (7-4, 5-3), TCU (7-4, 4-4) visits Oklahoma and West Virginia (6-5, 3-5) plays at Kansas (1-10, 0-8).

A team’s final BCS ranking must be No. 14 or higher to be considered for a BCS bowl. Kansas State’s current ranking is No. 6, Oklahoma No. 11, Oregon State No. 15, UCLA No. 16 and Texas No. 18.

It’s possible but unlikely that a Texas win Saturday at Kansas State would propel the Longhorns past the Wildcats or Oklahoma into a BCS bowl — only two reps from a conference can qualify. The next-best option for Texas — identified Tuesday as one of 21 teams under BCS bowl consideration — would be the Cotton Bowl, which gets the Big 12’s No. 2 team, unless two teams from the conference gain BCS bowl bids.

If Texas were to play in the Cotton Bowl and Oklahoma State beats Baylor Saturday, the Cowboys would be the likely Alamo Bowl choice. A Baylor win could thrust the Bears into the picture or open the door for TCU — if it beats Oklahoma — or West Virginia.

“There are so many variables, it’s all up in the air until Saturday,” Hill said.

Texas has played in the Alamo Bowl once, in 2006. The Longhorns beat Iowa 26-24 with attendance announced at 65,875 at the Alamodome — second-best in the bowl’s 19-year history.

“We had one of our all-time best crowds, in part because it was drive-able for most Longhorn fans,” Hill said.

If choosing between Oregon State and UCLA, the Alamo Bowl committee looks at many things besides records and head-to-head results.

“Both schools are attractive to us,” Hill said. “You consider how long it has been since a team has been in a bowl game. Usually, the longer the better ... but you take the temperature of the fan base.

“You also consider distance. We know it’s a shorter trip to San Diego for most Oregon State fans than to San Antonio. The Beavers played in Dallas Stadium (vs. TCU in 2010), and they traveled well, so that’s a good sign to us.”

Hill said “how a team finishes” is another factor. If it’s UCLA, the Bruins would be coming off back-to-back losses to Stanford. A comfortable win Saturday over Nicholls State wouldn’t hurt the Beavers’ chances.

The other factor — “it’s an important one,” Hill said — is the potential matchup. Would Texas-Oregon State, for instance, be a better draw than Texas-UCLA, or vice versa?

“We talk to representatives of the schools and find out what they’re thinking, too,” Hill said. “Sometimes they say, ‘We’re more focused on another bowl game.’ We need to hear that if that’s the case.”

Mike Riley’s two years as head coach of the San Antonio Riders of the World League in the early ‘90s doesn’t hurt Oregon State’s case. Ironically, Hill worked in ticket sales for the club at the time.

If the Beavers don’t get the Alamo Bowl nod, they’ll be headed to the Holiday Bowl to play the Big 12’s No. 5 team. The Big 12’s No. 4 team will take part in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (formerly the Insight Bowl) at Tempe, Ariz. The Holiday Bowl opponent would likely be TCU, Texas Tech, Baylor or West Virginia.

“We’ve been coveting Oregon State for years,” Holiday Bowl committee member Weldon Donaldson told the Portland Tribune earlier this month. “We’ve never had them, which would be a good thing. Sometimes fans get tired of going to the same destination.

“We also know the Oregon teams are notorious for traveling well to bowl games. ... we’d be enamored of Oregon State. To get (the Beavers) would be a feather in our cap. We figure it would be ideal.”

The payout per team to the Alamo Bowl (3:45 p.m. kickoff) is $3,175,000. Payout per team for the Holiday Bowl (6:45 p.m. kickoff) is $2,075,000. Both games are televised on ESPN.

Norman Dougas (correct spelling), a member of the Alamo Bowl committee, will be in Corvallis Saturday for the OSU-Nicholls State game.

“If UCLA beats Stanford,” Hill noted, “it will be a wasted trip.”