While their rivals across the Bay no longer have to worry about bowl eligibility, the California Golden Bears are fighting just to play in a bowl. Although they did manage a critical road victory in Pullman to beat the Washington St. Cougars, Cal now has to play host to the two best teams in the conference in two consecutive weeks. Although they've been unbeatable at home, none of their previous victories at Memorial have been against formidable competition. Still, they need only one win to play into December.
Let's take a look at the Pac-10 standings.
Pacific-10 Conference Standings
(updated 11.7.2010 at 12:46 AM PDT)
Oregon and Stanford are too far ahead; expecting them to drop their remaining conference games is highly unlikely. Cal has already lost to the Oregon St. Beavers and Arizona Wildcats, so they're not likely to leapfrog either of them.
With the USC Trojans bowl ineligble, that leaves them solidly pegging the fifth place Pac-10 bowl.
- #1 Bowl Championship Series. In 2010, the Pac-10 champion gains an automatic berth to a BCS bowl game, preferentially the Rose Bowl.
- #2 The Alamo Bowl receives the second choice of Pac-10 teams.
- #3 The Holiday Bowl receives the third choice of Pac-10 teams.
- #4 The Sun Bowl receives the fourth choice of Pac-10 teams.
- #5 The Maaco Bowl receives the fifth choice of Pac-10 teams
- #6 The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl receives the sixth choice of Pac-10 teams.
Thus, here are the two likeliest projections:
- If Cal were to win one more game and the Stanford Cardinal were shut out of the BCS, then Stanford would end up in San Antonio in the Alamo Bowl and the Golden Bears would probably earn a trip to Vegas and the Maaco Bowl.
- If Cal were to win one more game and Stanford earned a BCS bid, the Golden Bears would probably head to El Paso for the Sun Bowl.
So while it's unlikely the Golden Bears will catch up to the Cardinal, they can still play spoiler to their hopes at Pasadena. Retain the Axe (which is hardly likely but very much within the realm of possibility.), and Stanford isn't going to any BCS bowl this year.