We’re still three weeks away from the Cats’ next game but fear not, football friends, there are plenty of warm-up bowls with West Side pride at stake. Let TMIT-Pac (it just doesn’t have the same ring to it) be your guide!

Las Vegas Bowl
#16 Oregon State (8-4) vs. #15 BYU (10-2) – Tue. Dec. 22, 6 p.m. (all times Arizona/Mountain), ESPN
I know this game officially has a new corporate name but I don’t care. It still annoys me that in Arizona Stadium we have a plaque for going to the Sun Bowl in ’69 and ’85 and then a separate plaque for going to the “John Hancock Bowl” in ’92. It’s the same bowl, people!

Anyway, back to the Brigham Young Invitational. In the past four years in Vegas the Cougars have lost to Cal, smoked Oregon, squeaked by UCLA, and been absolutely dismantled by Arizona (OK, we won by ten). How will they fare against the Fly Sweep and the Quizz?

Poinsettia Bowl
Cal (8-4) vs. #23 Utah (9-3)
– Wed. Dec. 23, 6 p.m., ESPN
Why is the 6th place bowl played after the 5th place bowl? Why did Cal look so bad against Washington? If the Bears had won they would’ve had nine wins and a great case for the Holiday Bowl. Perhaps the better question is: Where do we send our thank-you cards?

Emerald Bowl
USC (8-4) vs. Boston College (8-4) – Sat. Dec. 26, 6 p.m., ESPN
Cal saved USC from 6th place but the Trojans can’t be happy. The last time USC played in a non-BCS bowl they scored six points against Utah. This year’s team might score that few even if they’re fired up.

EagleBank Bowl
UCLA (6-6) vs. Temple (9-3) – Tue. Dec. 29, 2:30 p.m., ESPN…maybe
Don’t you dare put a space in that name. They should have gone all-out and called it TheEagleBankBowl.

Army has an automatic tie-in to this game so UCLA only gets to play if the Cadets lose to Navy this Saturday. I wonder how the Bruins feel about being EagleBank’s fallback team. Are they just going to put up with it or will they finally stand up for themselves and wait for someone who loves them for who they are?

Holiday Bowl
#22 ARIZONA (8-4) vs. #20 Nebraska (9-4) – Wed. Dec. 30, 6 p.m., ESPN
Can the Wildcats play with the spirit of Chris McAlister and Trung Canidate? The Huskers on the other hand would gladly take Eric Crouch back at quarterback, even at 31 years old.

Nebraska came this close to winning the Big 12 and playing in the Fiesta Bowl. Add in their 16-15 loss to Virginia Tech and 9-7 loss to Iowa State and the Huskers were this close to being 12-1 and possibly playing for a national championship. So, yeah, Arizona better be ready.

Sun Bowl
#19 Stanford (8-4) vs. Oklahoma (7-5) – Thu. Dec. 31, 12 p.m., CBS
Bob Stoops got his wish and won’t have to play his brothers, but he may end up playing the Heisman Trophy winner instead. Big Toby has rushed for at least three touchdowns in each of his last four games and his per-carry average has gone up each of his last five games. I’m very glad to hear him accidentally say he’s leaving early for the NFL.

Rose Bowl
#7 Oregon (10-2) vs. #8 Ohio State (10-2) – Fri. Jan. 1, 2:30 p.m., ABC
The Big Ten hasn’t won this game since the 2000 season. Oregon hasn’t won the Rose Bowl since 1917. The Ducks are also the only team to lose in the Rose Bowl against Harvard. Now you know.

Who do we root for?
This is the time of year when you put rivalries aside and root for your conference cousins. Posting a record similar to last year’s 5-0 would be great for the Pac-10’s national perception.

But I would gladly take 1-6 if that one came on Dec. 30.

[Coming Monday…are you ready for this?…BASKETBALL!]