Huskies vs. Notre Dame in Fiesta Bowl?

  • John Sleeper / College Football Report
  • Thursday, November 9, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

For the sake of argument, let’s assume Washington beats UCLA and Washington State to end the regular season.

Big assumption, yes, considering the Huskies live on the edge more often than The Flying Wallendas.

But a pair of victories and a 10-1 record bring on some interesting possibilities, even if Oregon wins out and goes to the Rose Bowl to play Purdue. Most intriguing is a possible matchup with Notre Dame as an at-large team in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Huskies are No. 6 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, in prime position for a BCS bowl. Notre Dame becomes BCS-bowl-eligible if it wins its remaining three games (Boston College, at Rutgers, at USC) and finishes 9-2.

Because the Fiesta Bowl has first crack at the at-large teams, it most certainly will pick Notre Dame, given its enormous national appeal. Normally, the Fiesta would have the Big 12 champ against an at-large team. But Oklahoma has the inside track in the Big 12 and appears to be on its way to the Orange Bowl for the BCS Championship game.

Washington, as is its style, is capitalizing on the misfortunes of others. Michigan probably blew it with its loss to Northwestern and probably will have to settle for the Outback Bowl as the Big Ten’s No. 3 team.

Another former candidate, Virginia Tech, probably saw its BCS bowl hopes vanish with its lopsided loss to Miami. And forget about Clemson, which Florida State blew out. In fact, look for Virginia Tech (Big East No. 2) and Clemson (ACC No. 2) to meet in the Gator Bowl.

That leaves Washington.

Should it happen, the domino effect falls on the Pacific-10 Conference. Normally, the second-place team goes to the Holiday Bowl. However, should the Huskies grab a Fiesta Bowl berth, Oregon State is the likely one to go to the Holiday Bowl and play, as it appears, Texas A&M.

The Beavers have to like that.

That likely would put UCLA in the Sun Bowl against the Big Ten No. 5 team, probably Wisconsin. The two Arizona teams would go to the two Hawaii Bowls, making six Pac-10 squads in bowl games.

Of course, all this is out the window should the Huskies stumble. The Holiday Bowl, in that case, seems the most likely scenario.

Hmmm. Phoenix or San Diego.

Not exactly horrid options.

Here’s a look at Saturday’s games:

  • Kickoff: 4 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium.

  • TV, radio: ABC (Channel 4), KOMO radio (1000 AM).

  • Stars to watch: Washington – Quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo keys an offense that is great when it has to be. With Paul Arnold out with a bad back, freshman Rich Alexis and junior Willie Hurst will split time at tailback. Receivers Justin Robbins and Todd Elstrom have had solid moments, but the prime target is tight end Jerramy Stevens. Nose tackle Larry Tripplett is having an all-Pac-10 year and also has made a reputation as a kick-blocker. Linebacker Derrell Daniels seems in on virtually every play and strong safety Hakim Akbar anchors the secondary.

    UCLA – Flanker Freddie Mitchell leads the Pac-10 and is second in the nation in receiving yards are 123.2 a game. He and wideout Brian Poli-Dixon give quarterback Cory Paus two of the best targets in the nation. Tailback DeShaun Foster ran for 159 yards on 33 carries against Stanford, despite a broken hand. On defense, middle linebacker Robert Thomas is a Butkus Award semifinalist. The play of linebacker Marcus Reese has earned him a share of two-year starter Ryan Nece’s starting spot. Strong safety Marques Anderson is a stunning hitter with 50 tackles, 36 unassisted and three sacks.

  • Breaking down the game: The Huskies have to keep the score relatively close for their vaunted fourth-quarter comeback. That means preventing Mitchell and Foster from running wild. The Bruins have the weapons for a quick strike and figure to test freshman free safety Greg Carothers. The stumbling point for UCLA is its defensive line, which starts three freshmen because of an injury epidemic.

  • Bottom line: Ho-hum. Another wild finish.

  • Pick: Washington, 33-30 (overtime).

  • Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

  • TV, radio: KTWB (Ch. 10/22), KJR radio (950 AM).

  • Stars to watch: Washington State – With quarterback Jason Gesser out with a broken tibia, the Cougars turn to freshman Matt Kegel, a cousin of Ryan Leaf. Tailback Dave Minnich, an ex-Marine, has shaken off multiple injuries to be the conference’s No. 9 rusher. Wideout Milton Wynn is second in the conference at 18.8 yards a catch. Billy Newman is second in the Pac-10 with four interceptions.

    USC – Quarterback Carson Palmer leads the Pac-10 in passing yards, but has thrown 15 interceptions to go with just 10 TD passes. Tailback Sultan McCullough is second in the conference with 1,000 rushing yards. He also averages 5.8 yards a carry. Wideout Kareen Kelly has battled injuries, but still has 38 receptions for 500 yards. Linebackers Zeke Moreno and Markus Steele are two of the quicker players at their positions.

  • Breaking down the game: The Cougars need a spark in both their offense and their fortunes. With overtime losses in three of their last four games, this is a test of mettle. Unfortunately, the Trojans have won 11 of the past 12 and 27 of the past 29 meetings against WSU and hold a 50-6-4 advantage all-time.

  • Bottom line: Typical Pac-10 game. The Cougars will fight, but USC has too many weapons on offense.

  • Pick: USC, 28-27 (two overtimes).

  • Cal at Oregon: Cal is scrounging up a decent team that came within six points of Oregon State last week. The Ducks are banged up, uncharacteristic of them in November, but should have enough to turn away the Golden Bears. Pick: Oregon, 31-28 (overtime).

  • Oregon State at Arizona: The intrigue is that the Beavers are winless in Tucson in 10 tries, losing by double digits each time. But OSU has been shelling out payback for decades of abuse, and the Wildcats are just next in line. Oregon State’s defense figures to batter and rattle Arizona quarterback Oretege Jenkins, who is just 20-for-51 passing in is last two games. Pick: OSU, 41-35 (2 overtimes).

  • Arizona State at Stanford: The Sun Devils need one more win to become bowl-eligible, and the Cardinal can ruin it. Forget about homefield advantage at Stanford these days. Seagulls outnumber Cardinal fans here. Pick: ASU, 48-45 (3 overtimes).

  • Nebraska at Kansas State: Big stakes here. The winner wins the Big 12 North title, plays Oklahoma in the conference title game and gets in a big-time bowl game. Loser gets to ponder what happened to a promising season. Kansas State blasted a good Iowa State team and can claim momentum. Nebraska’s ticked off. Ticked off wins. Pick: Nebraska, 38-20.

  • South Carolina at Florida: This one is for the SEC Eastern Division title and a berth in the SEC championship game. The Gators, with a possible BCS title game at stake, are under a lot of pressure. The surprising Gamecocks can get into the Sugar Bowl or the Florida Citrus Bowl with a victory. Pick: Florida, 38-17.

  • Georgia at Auburn: The Bulldogs are in trouble if quarterback Quincy Carter (sprained thumb on his passing hand) can’t go. The Tigers had a bye last week and have a nice advantage at home. Pick: Auburn, 27-20.

  • Sleeper pick of the day: Texas A&M 24, Oklahoma 23.
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