Turns out there's one more big regular-season game for USC's football team. It's Friday night, at Sun Devil Stadium, in Tempe, Ariz. There, Arizona State, 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the Pacific 10, will play Arizona (8-2, 5-2) in a game that will probably determine where the Trojans (7-5, 6-2) will play their bowl game.
If Arizona wins, the Wildcats will finish at 6-2 and in a triple tie with UCLA and USC for the Pac-10 championship, and be 9-2 overall. The Wildcats then will almost certainly be picked to play in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.
USC will then be a likely participant in the Freedom Bowl in Anaheim on Dec. 28, despite Athletic Director Mike Garrett's statement last Saturday that the Trojans would not play in the Freedom Bowl, where they were embarrassed last December by Fresno State, 24-7.
But if Arizona State beats Arizona, USC will probably be picked to play Dec. 24 in the Hancock Bowl at El Paso, Tex., probably against Texas Tech (6-5).
Garrett agreed with that scenario Monday, saying USC would most likely play in the Freedom Bowl if Arizona wins.
"I didn't see any chance of that happening (on Saturday), but after all the upsets Saturday it changed a lot of scenarios," Garrett said.
Said Freedom Bowl director Don Andersen: "If Arizona State beats Arizona, my guess is the Fiesta people wouldn't take Arizona, and then we'd get Arizona State."
In last year's Freedom Bowl, Fresno State was a Western Athletic Conference co-champion. The WAC champion goes to the Holiday Bowl, played Dec. 30 at San Diego.
Said Andersen: "If San Diego State beats Wyoming Saturday, then Fresno State wins the WAC outright and they go to the Holiday. If Wyoming wins and BYU beats UTEP, there's a three-way WAC tie and BYU wins the conference title on tiebreakers.
"BYU would then go to the Holiday, and we could get one of the next two WAC teams."
There is a chance of the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., picking USC before the Hancock or Freedom, but Hancock official Tom Starr discounted that.
"The Gator has an 82,000-seat stadium they need to fill and I think they'd be more likely to do that if they got two teams closer to them," Starr said.
By contrast, Starr said, the Hancock Bowl set revenue records that still stand when USC last appeared there in 1990, when USC lost to Michigan State, 22-21.