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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 24, 2008

Pac-10 foe not a lock in Hawaii Bowl

By Ferd Lewis
Associated Press

In the waning moments of the University of Hawai'i's 49-17 victory over Idaho Saturday night a pre-packaged advertisement on the Aloha Stadium JumboTron assured:

"The Pac-10 is back to battle the WAC (in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl)!"

The only problem was that a couple of hours earlier the chances of that happening declined significantly when Stanford was beaten by California, 37-16, and Oregon State rallied past Arizona for a last-second 19-17 victory.

Had Stanford prevailed in the annual Bay Area "Big Game," it would have been bowl eligible at 6-6. And an Oregon State loss would have assured the Pac-10 being able to provide a team to play opposite the Western Athletic Conference representative, likely the University of Hawai'i, in the Dec. 24 Hawai'i Bowl.

"We hoped this past weekend would make things a little clearer but, with what happened, they are as clear as mud," said David Matlin, executive director of the Hawai'i Bowl.

The Warriors did their part winning to move to 6-5, one game away from bowl eligibility, with two regular-season games remaining.

But with Oregon State (8-3) continuing to win, Southern California (9-1) still highly ranked and Stanford (5-7) losing, the Hawai'i Bowl now needs UCLA (4-6) or Arizona State (4-6) to win out and, then, cross its fingers.

The Hawai'i Bowl is contracted to get the sixth pick of bowl eligible Pac-10 teams. At the moment, the conference has five: USC, Oregon State, Oregon, Cal and Arizona. But if Oregon State beats Oregon, it goes to the Rose Bowl and USC is snapped up by another Bowl Championship Series game or if neither Arizona State nor UCLA win out, the Pac-10 would finish short and the Hawai'i Bowl would have to reach into the at-large pool.

UCLA would have to beat ASU and USC in the next two weeks. Or, ASU would have to beat UCLA and Arizona. But even those scenarios might not be enough if Oregon State beats Oregon (8-3) to go to the Rose Bowl and another BCS game, say the Fiesta Bowl, takes a one or two-loss USC as an at-large pick.

In the event the Hawai'i Bowl is forced to take a dip in the at-large pool, a Mid-American Conference team looms as a possibility. The MAC already has five bowl-eligible teams Ball State (11-0), Western Michigan (9-2), Central Michigan (8-3), Buffalo (7-4) and Northern Illinois (6-5) for three slots and could add Akron (5-6) or Bowling Green (5-6) if they close with victories.

While a UH victory Saturday against Washington State (2-10) would lock up half of the Hawai'i Bowl matchup, Matlin said the game might have to wait until Dec. 7, the date the BCS "releases" its teams, to know for sure the other half of the pairing.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com.