MANHATTAN — The college football version of Selection Sunday is four days away, but the Holiday Bowl is confident it has half the equation figured out already.
“We are focused on Kansas State,” Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski said during a phone interview. “If they are available, we are going to take them.”
All signs point to the Wildcats being available when it comes time for the Holiday Bowl to choose teams for its annual Big 12 vs. Pac-12 game, which will be played on Dec. 30 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
The Holiday Bowl selects fifth in the Big 12’s bowl pecking order, and K-State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12) will finish fifth in the conference standings, with obvious separation over sixth-place Texas Tech. The Wildcats own more league victories than the Red Raiders and beat them soundly head-to-head in Lubbock.
From the Pac-12, Binkowski said the Holiday Bowl is considering Arizona State, Stanford and Oregon “in no particular order.”
“There’s not a bad pick in the bunch,” Binkowski said. “All three have great potential.”
A matchup with Arizona State would be fitting. The Wildcats faced the Sun Devils during their last trip to the Holiday Bowl in 2002. K-State won 34-27, and hasn’t tasted a bowl victory since, losing five straight.
K-State-Oregon would be a rematch of last season’s Fiesta Bowl, which the Ducks won 35-17. K-State has never played Stanford.
Arizona State and Stanford will meet in the Pac-12 championship game on Saturday. The winner will advance to the Rose Bowl. The loser could land in the Holiday Bowl, which selects third in the Pac-12 bowl pecking order.
“We are going to wait and see on the Pac-12 side,” Binkowski said. “But, as we read the tea leaves, we think Kansas State will be available to us. The only way that could be at risk is if two teams go up (to BCS bowls) from the Big 12. I don’t think that will happen.”
Should two Big 12 teams qualify for BCS bowls, the Wildcats could earn an invitation to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which will be played on Dec. 28 in Tempe, Ariz. But that scenario is a long shot.
For that to happen a string of chaotic upsets, including a Bowling Green victory over Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game, would have to occur over the next few days. Oklahoma State would have to beat Oklahoma to clinch a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. And Baylor would have to beat Texas to raise its BCS at-large hopes.
Even then, the Bears could lose out to contenders from other conferences.
At the moment, most BCS projections have Florida State and Ohio State in the BCS championship game, Northern Illinois and Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, the Big Ten runner-up vs. the Pac-12 champion in the Rose Bowl, Alabama and Clemson in the Orange Bowl, and the SEC champion vs. Central Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Binkowski expects those projections to hold.
If they do, he knows who the Holiday Bowl will select from the Big 12.
“Everything about Kansas State is great on our end,” Binkowski said. “They have seriously great fan support, they have won five of their last six and Bill Snyder is in our Holiday Bowl hall of fame. We think it is a big winner for San Diego to have a shot at Kansas State.
“It’s not confirmed and it’s not official, but we are very excited about the prospect of having Kansas State back here.”