Nick Foles

Nick Foles wants one more bowl game.
Photo by David Kadluebowski/The Arizona Republic

The Arizona Wildcats open football training camp on Thursday, August 4.

That means it’s time to start thinking about the end of the season.

If you want to travel to see your team play in a bowl game the time to start planning is now. We’re here to help.

The college football bowl system is unlike anything else in American sports. Teams are paired in single games across the country and the winner of each one gets a trophy. This is not another bowls vs. playoff debate. This is you transforming from a “Capital One Bowl Week” TV watcher to a traveling, school-colors-wearing, bowl game attendee.

My buddy and I have gone to all three of the UA’s bowls in the Mike Stoops era. Rushing the field in frigid Las Vegas. Suffering in the San Diego rain. Getting overwhelmed by orange at the Alamo. The games don’t always turn out the way you want but I highly recommend the experience to any college football fan.

So let’s do it. Here are the 2011-’12 Pac-12 bowl tie-ins in chronological order:

2011 Pac-12 bowls by date

The bids aren’t going to start being handed out until the regular season finale on Nov. 26, just three weeks before the first game. If you wait to see where your team is going you might not be able to join them.

Here are the steps you need to take now to be ready then:

Get the time off work.
If you have a typical Monday-through-Friday job with holidays off and you put in for a mere three vacation days – Wed. Dec. 28 through Fri. Dec. 30 – you would be set for six of the seven Pac-12 bowls. Only the Vegas Bowl on the Thursday before Christmas would require a sick day. Don’t let somebody with “seniority” or “good work ethic” beat you to the punch!

Save your pennies.
If you get paid twice a month you have nine paychecks left before bowl season. Start saving up now and you could have a nice-sized travel fund by the time the matchups are announced.

Keep your car in shape.
If you plan on buying last-minute plane tickets during the holiday season you’re going to have to take full advantage of those nine paychecks. But if you have more time than money you can still make any of the Pac-12 bowls. Here they are in order of driving distance from Tucson:

2011 Pac-12 bowls by distance from Tucson

We drove to San Antonio last year. Did I see more of I-10 than I ever cared to? Yes. Did muffed punts and blown coverages make the trip back seem like 8,000 miles? You’re Bug Wright they did. But we made it and now we know the entire list is drivable.

If you’ve never traveled to a bowl before why do you want to go this year?

You can be a part of history. If the Cats make the postseason for the fourth straight season it would be the longest bowl streak in school history. The current run matches Dick Tomey’s stretch from 1992-1994.

Arizona quarterback Nick Foles is also trying to make history by becoming the first UA QB to start in three bowl games. He certainly doesn’t want to become the first to lose three bowls.

Here are the conferences (and military academy) that have contracted to play Pac-12 teams this year:

2011 Pac-12 bowl opponents

You are now prepared. You’ve submitted your time-off request. You’ve adjusted your budget. You’ve scheduled an oil change. Only one question remains:

Will Arizona win enough games this year to give you a game to attend?

We’ll tackle the Wildcats’ win budget soon.

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Scott Terrell and I-10 go way back. Ride shotgun on Twitter and Facebook.