The nation's top 10 teams continue to fluctuate, but as the regular season winds down the bowl picture is becoming clear.
Bowl bids cannot be officially extended until Nov. 24, but it appears the biggest matchup will be No. 1 Notre Dame vs. the likely No. 2 team, Colorado, in a rematch of last season's Orange Bowl.
The Fighting Irish (8-1), who returned to the top spot last week after Virginia lost to Georgia Tech, still must play No. 21 Penn State and No. 23 Southern California.
Colorado (9-1-1), which clinched a share of the Big Eight title with a 41-22 victory over Oklahoma State last Saturday, can still be tied by Nebraska, but Orange Bowl officials say they would select the Buffaloes because they have beaten the Cornhuskers.
For Colorado, which has lost to Illinois, was tied by Tennessee and needed a fifth down to beat Missouri, an Orange Bowl date against Notre Dame would provide an opportunity to avenge a 21-6 loss last year that knocked it from the No. 1 spot.
"Personally, I'd love to play Notre Dame again," said Colorado tackle Mark VanderPoel. "I didn't play that well last year. I'd like a shot at redemption."
Unless Notre Dame is upset in one of its last two games, last Saturday's games rendered a number of other bowls to second-banana status. No. 2 Washington fell to UCLA, 25-22; a compelling Rose Bowl matchup against No. 6 Iowa suffered further when the Hawkeyes lost to Ohio State, 27-26.
The Pac-10 champion Huskies have already clinched a berth in Pasadena. Iowa is still on top of a crowded Big Ten field that includes Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota.
Over the last week, the failure of Arizona voters to make a state holiday of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday fostered a great deal of controversy for the Fiesta Bowl. Players from Virginia and Penn State balked at participating in the game, to be played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
Late in the week, bowl organizers offered to move the game elsewhere, possibly San Diego, but the Cavaliers appear poised to go to the Sugar Bowl, while Penn State (7-2) will likely accept a bid to the inaugural Sunshine Bowl in Joe Robbie Stadium in Hollywood, Fla., to face Florida State.
If the Seminoles (7-2) do play the Dec. 28 game, it will be the first time in four years that Coach Bobby Bowden's team won't be playing New Year's Day. Currently No. 12, Florida State also is in danger of not finishing in the top three for the first time in four years.
"Our goal right now is to try to get back up there," Bowden said. "Notre Dame, Miami and Florida State may still be a rung above everybody else."
The Hurricanes, ranked No. 5, seem headed for a Cotton Bowl matchup against Texas, which figures to move from No. 14 into the top 10 after routing No. 3 Houston, 45-24. The Cougars' loss means 1990 will be the first season since 1936 without an unbeaten, untied team.
Georgia Tech (8-0-1) figures to move into the top five despite a narrow 6-3 victory over Virginia Tech. The Yellow Jackets should play in the Florida Citrus Bowl, possibly against Nebraska. Along with Virginia, the other Atlantic Coast Conference team that figures to get a postseason invitation is Clemson. The Tigers may be facing Illinois in the Hall of Fame Bowl.
Other possible pairings include Holiday (BYU-Texas A&M); Copper (California-Wyoming); John Hancock (Southern Cal-Michigan St.); Independence (S. Miss.-Baylor); Freedom (Colorado State-Oregon); Aloha (Arizona-Syracuse); Liberty (Air Force-Alabama); California (Central Michigan-Fresno State or San Jose State); All-American (Louisville-Southeastern Conference team); Peach (Indiana-Southestern conference team).