WHERE WILL RILEY AND BEAVS GO..IF AT ALL?
THERE ARE A lot of different predictions for Oregon State and where they might go bowling. There's early bowl games and later ones. Sunny locales and ones that are already feeling the bite of winter. There's also another scenario out there...
And that is that a 6-6 team from the Pac-12 will get shut out. Maybe even two teams.
Nine Pac-12 teams have qualified but the conference has seven guaranteed berths in 2013, with only one Pac-12 BCS bowl team likely. That means two teams will need to be at-large berths.
First of all, the official announcements won't be made until Sunday. But it should be determined sometime this week, maybe as soon as Tuesday after the AD's meeting, where the Beavs stand. (Although again, it isn't expected to be officially announced until Dec. 8 after the final games have been played this weekend since some of those will determine who plays where, and then things trickle down from that.)
So let's speculate a little here. The Beavs look to have a good shot for the New Mexico Bowl, one of the bowls that have Pac-12 ties. Figure that some combination of Stanford, ASU, Oregon, UCLA, USC will fill the Rose, Alamo, Holiday, Sun and Las Vegas bowl slots. Washington goes to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. That leaves Albuquerque's New Mexico Bowl.
The Beavers figure to be competing with Arizona and Wazzu for that spot. Let's look at both.
Arizona would seem to be on the outside looking in even though they hold a 7-5 record. First, 'Zone just played in the bowl last year and bowl selection committees generally stay away from repeat invites. Second, 'Zona is only about six hours away by car so even if they travel well, they might not fill up the hotels to the degree another school would.
Oregon State beat WSU soundly in the regular season but that matters little when it comes to bowl selections. WSU's Athletic Director has been publicly stumping for the Cougs and talking up the New Mexico Bowl, Oregon State would be wise to do the same if they want to head to Albuquerque. WSU can point to a charismatic head coach and a fan base hungry to travel to a bowl for the first time in 10 years.
If the Beavs look elsewhere, there are six bowls that may, depending on how this coming weekend shakes out, be prime possibilities for Pac-12 teams because their conference tie-ins may go unfilled. They are: Beef 'O' Brady's (Dec. 23, St. Petersburg);
Little Caesars (Dec. 26, Detroit);
Pinstripe (Dec. 28, New York);
AdvoCare V100 (Dec. 31, Shreveport);
Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31, Memphis) and
Heart of Dallas Bowl, (Jan. 1, Dallas).
HOW DO THE gurus see it going for the Beavs?
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports predicts Oregon State will play in the AdvoCare Bowl in Shreveport, La. (Dec. 31) vs. Georgia Tech.
The Orlando Sentinel also sees the Beavs in Shreveport against the same opponent.
Phil Steele makes it three in a row for the AdvoCare Bowl, but has the Beavs playing Boston College.
Yahoo Sports predicts Oregon State will play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against North Texas. The bowl is held in Dallas on New Year's Day.
ESPN's Brad Edwards also sees OSU in Dallas against the same opponent.
ESPN's Mark Schlabach points to Oregon State in the Poinsettia Bowl, Dec. 26, vs. Utah State.
Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel plays the role of the Grinch for Beaver fans. He projects that out of a group of one of this group of four 6-6 teams -- Oregon State, Washington State, Pittsburgh and Syracuse -- one of them will stay home. And he thinks it will be the Beavers, pointing to their five straight losses to end the season.
The Tampa Bay Times might be the bigger Grinch, predicting two Pac-12 teams in OSU and WSU will stay home.
By the way, if you want to see the Beavs (or another Pac-12 team) in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, root for Michigan State and Ohio State to both win BCS bowl berths. Such an outcome would mean Michigan would go to one of their conference bowls. If not, Michigan will be available for the Heart of Dallas, which seems likely to swoop them up if they can.