- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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The regular season is over (except for Oregon State). That means this will be the final installment of the weekly bowl projections (sniffle, tear).
From here on out, it's just a matter of sorting out the conference champion and then establishing the pecking order.
Either Stanford or UCLA will be in the Rose Bowl -- pending the outcome of the Pac-12 championship game at Stanford Stadium on Friday. That team will face the winner of Nebraska-Wisconsin.
If Saturday night was any indication, the Cardinal will be in a BCS bowl game for the third consecutive year. But as the old adage goes, it's tough to beat a team twice. We're expecting a more competitive game this time around. (But there will be plenty about that coming up this week.)
If Stanford wins, the Alamo Bowl will have a coin-flip decision between Oregon State and UCLA -- both with matching 6-3 records. (The outcome of the conference championship game doesn't impact conference record, only overall record, and the pecking order is based on conference records.) Whichever team doesn't go to the Alamo will head to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl. You'd have to think the Holiday Bowl would prefer Oregon State because the Beavers' fans will fill hotel rooms. UCLA fans might buy more tickets, but there would be a lot of day-trippers who would drive down and back rather than staying for three or four days' worth of festivities.
With USC's loss to Notre Dame, the Ducks are on the outside of the national championship picture -- but they'll be an at-large selection for a BCS game.
If UCLA beats Stanford, the Alamo Bowl has to take Stanford based on its 8-1 conference record. By rule, it can't take a team that has more than one loss below Stanford -- which would be Oregon State at 6-3 (since Oregon is elevated to a BCS game).
After Stanford, Oregon, UCLA and Oregon State have been determined, it's a question of which teams are the most attractive and which fan base will fill hotel rooms. With three 5-4 teams, much of it will come down to economics.
Rose Bowl Game, Jan. 1: Stanford vs. Big Ten
Tostitos Fiesta, Jan. 3: Oregon vs. BCS
Valero Alamo, Dec. 29: UCLA vs. Big 12
Bridgepoint Education Holiday, Dec. 27: Oregon State vs. Big 12
Hyundai Sun, Dec. 31: USC vs. ACC
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, Dec. 22: Washington vs. MWC
Kraft Fight Hunger, Dec. 29: Arizona State vs. Navy
Gildan New Mexico, Dec. 15: Arizona vs. MWC