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BYU-U. outcome may determine bowl bids

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There's more than just pride, rivalry, recruiting and instate bragging rights on the line when BYU hosts Utah in the regular-season finale Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Cougar Stadium.

While only Utah still has a slight shot at the WAC championship game or a share of the Mountain Division title, both teams have postseason aspirations. BYU has the best chance at a bowl invitation. With a victory, the Cougars would bank on a 7-4 overall record and a stronger national reputation.To realize its rather remote bowl possibility, Utah would need a resounding victory and a bowl willing to take the Utes with a 6-5 mark.

While some bowl invitations could be determined by as early as Saturday, others may be delayed a week to see what trickle-down effect takes place with regular-season finales and conference championship games.

With WAC front-runners Colorado State, New Mexico and Air Force more likely for consideration for the first two of the WAC's three bowl berths, BYU is relegated to looking attractive to several second-tier bowls that won't pay much if at all beyond the minimum $750,000 payout per team.

Some have suggested that BYU would do best if it turned down the invitations and the Cougars instead spent the postseason at home licking their wounds after an inconsistent season.

Chivalry aside, turning down a bowl - even the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, as Utahns take their turn looking down their noses at someone else - would be a no-win situation for BYU, which would come off as being too good, too high-and-mighty for lower-end bowls.

Besides, the cash-starved WAC could use the extra bucks, and the young Cougar team could use the extra December practice and the seasoning of a bowl game.

Here's a list of this year's bowls, their sites, dates, TV affiliation and conference tie-ins. Also included are possible participants and BYU's advantages and disadvantages where the Cougars could qualify:

BOWL PROJECTIONS

Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas; Dec. 20 (ESPN2) - WAC third vs. at-large: Air Force and BYU are the strongest candidates from the WAC, unless Colorado State and New Mexico stumble out of the league's front-runner spots. Bowl officials are eyeing Southern Cal, Notre Dame or a Big Ten team as possibilities - they've even mentioned a possible BYU-Air Force or BYU-Notre Dame matchup.

Aloha Bowl, Honolulu; Dec. 25 (ABC) - Pac-10 fourth vs. the Big 12 fifth: The Pac-10 possibilities include Washington, Washington State or Southern Cal. Depending on Alliance selections, the Big 12 may not fill this spot, so at-large options include Air Force and BYU. Notre Dame ends the regular season at Hawaii, so the Irish wouldn't be considered.

Motor City Bowl, Pontiac, Mich.; Dec. 26 (ESPN) - MAC champ vs. at-large: MAC champ will be Marshall-Toledo winner and will likely face a Big Ten team such as Michigan State or Iowa, both of which need one more Division I-A victory.

Insight.com Bowl, Tucson, Ariz.; Dec. 27 (ESPN) - WAC second vs. Big 12 sixth or at-large: CSU, New Mexico or Air Force will likely fill this spot in the former Copper Bowl. Colorado must beat Nebraska to qualify, or the Insight.com folks go shopping for a Big Ten team or Notre Dame.

Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La.; Dec. 28 (ESPN) - SEC fifth vs. at-large: SEC options include LSU, Mississippi State and Mississippi. The Independence would love to get Notre Dame, which turned the bowl down after last year's 8-3 season. Other at-large possibles include Air Force, a Big Ten team and local favorite Louisiana Tech (9-2). No BYU for the Sunday bowl.

Humanitarian Bowl, Boise; Dec. 29 (ESPN2) - Big West champ vs. at-large: Utah State has clinched, and possible opponents include Air Force, BYU, Wyoming and the Pac-10 duo of Oregon and Arizona, both of which need one more Division I-A win, as well as Cincinnati of Conference USA.

Carquest Bowl, Miami; Dec. 29 (TBS) - Big East third vs. ACC fourth or at-large: West Virginia will likely be the Big East selection, while five ACC teams - North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Clemson and South Carolina - each are a Division I-A shy. If an at-large is needed, remember that southern Florida loves Notre Dame and vice versa.

Holiday Bowl, San Diego; Dec. 29 (ESPN) - WAC champ (or Pac-10 second) vs. Big 12 third: CSU, New Mexico and Air Force are the most-likely candidates to represent the WAC, depending on Saturday's games. Possible opponents include Missouri, Kansas State, Texas A&M or Oklahoma State.

Alamo Bowl, San Antonio; Dec. 30 (ESPN) - Big 12 fourth vs. Big Ten fourth: Expect either Texas A&M or Oklahoma State to face either Wisconsin or Purdue.

Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas; Dec. 31 (CBS) - Pac-10 third vs. Big Ten fifth: Depending on if the Pac-10 sends a team to both the Rose Bowl and an Alliance Bowl, the league can offer Washington, Washington State, Arizona State, UCLA and Southern Cal. Purdue, Wisconsin and Iowa are Big Ten options, but the Hawkeyes must win Saturday.

Liberty Bowl, Memphis; Dec. 31 (ESPN) - Conference USA champ vs. Big East fourth or at-large: Southern Mississippi has clinched the first berth. Miami and Pittsburgh are longshots to qualify from the Big East, so at-large possibilities include Mississippi State, Ole Miss and even Notre Dame.

Fiesta Bowl, Tempe, Ariz.; Dec. 31 (CBS) - Alliance fourth vs. Alliance sixth: The sixth and last Alliance spot will go to the Big East (Virginia Tech should edge out Syracuse). So the Fiesta can choose from hometown Arizona State, the Michigan-Ohio State loser, Kansas State or UCLA.

Outback Bowl, Tampa, Fla.; Jan. 1 (ESPN) - Big Ten third vs. SEC third: It's probably Purdue or Wisconsin facing either Florida, Auburn or Georgia.

Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla.; Jan. 1 (NBC) - ACC second vs. Big East second: It's most likely North Carolina meeting Syracuse, with the latter perhaps replaced by Virginia Tech.

Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.; Jan. 1 (ABC) - Big Ten second vs. SEC second: Either Ohio State or Penn State is tabbed from the Big Ten, while the SEC selection comes from the Florida-Auburn-Georgia threesome.

Cotton Bowl, Dallas; Jan. 1 (CBS) - Pac-10 second (or WAC champ) vs. Big 12 second: The WAC's out since the Cotton can pick from the likes of Washington and the leftovers of the Rose Bowl hopefuls - UCLA, Arizona State or Washington State - that miss out. The opponent is probably Kansas State or Texas A&M.

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.; Jan. 1 (ABC) - Big 10 champ vs. Pac-10 champ: Saturday's games will decide if it's Michigan or Ohio State meeting Washington State, UCLA or Arizona State.

Sugar Bowl, New Orleans; Jan. 1 (ABC) - Alliance third vs. Alliance fifth: Most-likely scenario would have Tennessee taking on Penn State. If one or both suffer losses or are selected for the Orange Bowl, you could have the SEC champ against Ohio State, Michigan or Florida State.

Peach Bowl, Atlanta, Jan. 2 (ESPN) - ACC third or at-large vs. SEC fourth: Home-state Georgia is likely the SEC team to be picked for the Peach, with Auburn and Ole Miss in the running. A whole host of ACC teams (see Carquest Bowl) - still lack one win to qualify for the third pick, while Notre Dame leads the at-large options.

Orange Bowl, Miami, Jan. 2 (CBS) - Alliance first vs. Alliance second: Dream matchup would be unbeatens Nebraska and Florida State, but FSU must beat Florida and Huskers have Colorado and Big 12 title game. Outside possibles include Tennessee and even Penn State.

*****

Additional Information

Utah at BYU

Saturday, Nov. 22, 1:30 p.m. MST Cougar Stadium, Provo

TV: KTVX (ABC-TV, Ch. 4);

Radio: KSL 1160-AM; KALL 910-AM

Bowl to go

WAC

Guaranteed berths 1/3C - Holiday Bowl

2 - Insight.com Bowl

3 - Las Vegas Bowl

Bowl-worthy: Colorado State, New Mexico, Air Force, Brigham Young, Southern Methodist, Rice.

Pending: Utah* (at BYU, Saturday).

Pac-10

Guaranteed berths 1/3C - Rose Bowl

1a - possible Alliance Bowl

2 - Cotton Bowl

3 - Sun Bowl

4 - Aloha Bowl

Bowl worthy: UCLA, Arizona State, Washington State, Washington, USC.

Pending: Oregon* (hosts Oregon State Saturday); Arizona (at Arizona State Nov. 28).

Big 12

Guaranteed berths 1/3C - Alliance Bowl

1a - 2nd Alliance berth?

2 - Cotton Bowl

3 - Holiday Bowl

4 - Alamo Bowl

5 - Aloha Bowl

6 - Insight.com Bowl

Bowl worthy: Nebraska, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Texas A&M.

Pending: Colorado* (hosts Nebraska Nov. 28).

Big 10

Guaranteed berths 1/3C - Rose Bowl

1a - Alliance Bowl berth?

1b - 2nd Alliance berth?

2 - Citrus Bowl

3 - Outback Bowl

4 - Alamo Bowl

5 - Sun Bowl

Bowl worthy: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin.

Pending: Iowa* (hosts Minnesota, Saturday); Michigan State* (at Illinois Saturday, or Penn State Nov. 29).

ACC

Guaranteed berths 1/3C - Alliance Bowl

2 - Gator Bowl

3 - Peach Bowl

4 - Carquest

Bowl worthy: Florida State, North Carolina.

Pending: Virginia* (hosts Virginia Tech Nov. 29); Clemson* (hosts South Carolina Saturday); Georgia Tech (hosts Maryland Saturday or hosts Georgia Nov. 29); North Carolina State* (hosts East Carolina Saturday); South Carolina* (at Clemson Saturday).

Big East

Guaranteed berths 1/3C - Alliance Bowl

2 - Gator Bowl

3 - Carquest Bowl

4 - Liberty Bowl

Bowl worthy: Virginia Tech, Syracuse, West Virginia.

Pending: Miami* (hosts Syracuse Nov. 29); Pittsburgh* (hosts Virginia Tech Saturday and West Virginia Nov. 28).

SEC

Guaranteed berths 1/31 - Alliance Bowl

2 - Citrus Bowl

3 - Outback Bowl

4 - Peach Bowl

5 - Independence Bowl

Bowl worthy: Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Mississippi State, Mississippi.

Pending: None.

Other conference tie-ins and independents

- Big West Conference champion to Humanitarian Bowl

- Conference USA champion to Liberty Bowl

- Mid-American Conference champion to Motor City Bowl

- Notre Dame needs to beat West Virginia and Hawaii to become bowl-eligible

- Louisiana Tech, another independent, is 9-2 overall

Key: C =champion; * =team must win one or more games (opponent in parantheses) to reach required six victories against Division I-A opponents.