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Huskies Get Freedom Bid; Tennessee Is Possible Foe

Times Staff Writer

Depending on the outcome of the University of Tennessee’s final two regular-season games, a matchup between the Volunteers and Washington appears set for the second Freedom Bowl, scheduled for Dec. 30 in Anaheim Stadium.

According to Tom Starr, Freedom Bowl executive director, the Freedom Bowl is planning to extend an invitation to Washington (6-4) this Saturday, the first day bowl bids can officially be offered, and will wait to see if Tennessee (6-1-2) loses to either Kentucky or Vanderbilt. The Volunteers are still in contention for a berth in the Sugar Bowl, but have indicated they would choose the Freedom Bowl if they fail to win the Southeastern Conference.

“With Washington, we’re looking pretty good,” Starr said. “We’ve wanted them all along. We wanted a Pac-10 team that would draw. Washington will probably finish second and they’re the only Pac-10 team to have beaten UCLA this year. It’s a giant step for us.”

Of Tennessee, Starr said: “If Tennessee wins on out, it will go to the Sugar. But if they slip, Tennessee has told us we are their next choice.”

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Mike Lude, Washington athletic director, said his school would “most certainly be interested” if tendered a Freedom Bowl bid. “At the University of Washington, our goal every year is to be in a bowl game,” Lude said. “If offered the opportunity, we’d go.”

Lude said Washington has also considered the Holiday Bowl, the Sun Bowl and the Cherry Bowl. But the Holiday Bowl has reportedly received commitments from Arizona State and Arkansas and the Huskies would like to spend their postseason in Southern California.

“We like the Freedom Bowl,” Lude said. “We like the location, the geography and Orange County. It’s a new bowl and last year (a 55-14 Iowa victory over Texas), it had some weather problems. But it has the potential to be one of the outstanding bowls in Division I-AA.”

Tennessee is currently in second place in the SEC with a conference record of 3-1. The Volunteers trail LSU, which is 4-1-1 in SEC play. LSU has finished its conference schedule, but the Volunteers have games remaining with Kentucky (5-5) and Vanderbilt (3-6-1).

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If Tennessee wins its last two games to advance to the Sugar Bowl, Starr will resort to “back-up” list. Included on that list are Arizona, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia.

So, Starr finds himself in the position of having to root for one of his game’s potential teams to lose.

“You hate to say it that way,” Starr said with a laugh. “Maybe they (Tennessee) can tie one of those games. That would still send LSU to the Sugar and give us Tennessee.”

Most important, according to Starr, was attracting a team from the West. The first Freedom Bowl drew only 24,093 fans and Starr is hoping that a West Coast team can bolster attendance.

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He scouted Saturday’s Air Force-BYU game, with the hope of luring the loser. But BYU and Ohio State are tentatively set for the Florida-Citrus Bowl and Air Force has reportedly committed to the Bluebonnet Bowl, against either Baylor or Texas A&M.;

“We thought we had a chance,” Starr said, “but you have to understand, 12 other bowls had representatives at those games, too. We were told we were second in both pictures.

“We’re happy about Washington. Getting them was the key. We felt we could go out and get anybody, as long as we had a West Coast team.”

A look at the probable bowl game matchups:

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Rose: UCLA vs. Iowa.

Orange: Oklahoma or Nebraska vs. Penn State.

Sugar: LSU or Tennessee vs. Miami (Fla.)

Cotton: Baylor vs. Auburn.

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Fiesta: Michigan vs. Nebraska or Oklahoma.

Holiday: Arkansas vs. Arizona State.

Aloha: Alabama vs. Texas.

Bluebonnet: Air Force vs. Texas A&M.;

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Gator: Florida State vs. Oklahoma State.

Florida-Citrus: BYU vs. Ohio State.

Sun: Georgia vs. undecided.

Cherry: Maryland vs. undecided.

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All-American: Georgia Tech vs. Michigan State.

Independence: Minnesota vs. Clemson-South Carolina winner.

Peach: Army vs. Illinois.

California: Fresno State vs. Bowling Green.

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