The halfway mark in the college football season is a busy time for bowl selection committees. Of course, the four biggest bowls will have the pick of the crop with their ties to the major conferences that dominate the rankings.

Right now, the Cotton Bowl is sitting pretty thanks to the unbeaten and top-rated status of Texas. Off its command performance against Southern California, Notre Dame, with a soft, five-game schedule remaining, would choose to face the Longhorns with a national championship to the winner.

But Texas has a tough road ahead, with the likes of Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas A & M still on the schedule. But the game against the Aggies will be played after the bids are accepted. So it's probable that while the Southwest Conference crown will be determined on the day the Aggies and Longhorns play, Notre Dame will already have made its choice.

Other likely matchups will have the Orange Bowl hosting Oklahoma against the winner of the Penn State-Pittsburgh game, the Sugar Bowl matching Alabama against the Michigan-Ohio State loser, and the Michigan-Ohio State winner against the Pacific-Eight champion in the granddaddy Rose Bowl.

The Pac-Eight race is wide open but this weekend's games should clarify the picture somewhat. USC and Washington have not lost in conference play, while Stanford and UCLA each have lost once.

The Bruins at home are 4 over Washington in a game that will be a dandy. Stanford is 6 over Oregon State, while USC is 6 over California.

The Trojans will have to be careful against the wide-open California offense, but the Bears will have to prove themselves against Southern California's superior running backs. Despite losses to Alabama and Notre Dame. S.C. still have too much talent for the rest of the West.