It's such a juicy thought with Penn State and Pitt playing so well: Maybe, just maybe the rivalry could be renewed with the teams meeting in a BCS bowl game.
Let's play the what-if game.
The bad news: The odds aren't good that it will happen.
The good news: It's certainly possible, if everything falls perfectly into place, that the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona could host the game everyone in Pennsylvania wants to see.
Here's what needs to happen:
* Penn State wins out for an 11-1 record and finishes second behind Iowa in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes would go to the Rose Bowl and play USC.
* Penn State finishes in the top 14 in the BCS standings to be eligible for an at-large bid. The Lions are currently No. 12 and would go up by winning out.
* Pitt wins the Big East title, which means wins at West Virginia and at home against Cincinnati.
* Texas wins the Big 12 and goes to the BCS national championship game against the winner of the SEC, either Florida or Alabama.
* Lady Luck intervenes.
Conference champions are obligated to appear in certain BCS bowls, unless they are in the national title game. The breakdown this year: Rose (Pac-10 vs. Big Ten), Orange (ACC champ), Fiesta (Big 12 champ) and Sugar (SEC champ).
The bowl games then pick the opponents in order, and the order this season is Orange, Fiesta, then Sugar.
Now, the fun part begins when those bowls lose their conference tie-in to the BCS championship game. The Fiesta, for example, would lose Texas, while the Sugar would lose Florida or Alabama.
When a bowl loses its conference tie-in, it gets to select first before the other bowls. The Fiesta and Sugar, therefore, would need replacements.
So let's play this out, as it pertains to a potential Penn State vs. Pitt matchup.
The Sugar Bowl would lose Florida or Alabama and would have the first pick among BCS-eligible teams. It almost certainly would take the loser of the Gators-Crimson Tide game to keep the SEC connection.
The Fiesta Bowl would pick next because it would have lost Texas. With Oklahoma struggling and no other Big 12 team in the running, the Fiesta would take the team with the biggest name and traveling fan base.
It would be very difficult for the Fiesta to turn down Joe Paterno and Penn State.
The Orange Bowl would pick third and match up the ACC champ -- that race is still wide open -- against whatever team it feels would provide the best matchup.
The drawback in this whole scenario is that Pitt would appear to be a good fit for the Orange Bowl committee.
But, if the Orange Bowl would decide to bypass the Panthers, the Fiesta Bowl picks next and could take them with Penn State already locked in.
Whether the folks in Glendale, Ariz., would consider an all-Keystone matchup sexy remains to be seen. But the PR value it could generate out of renewing the rivalry would seem to be enormous, much more so than, say, a Penn State vs. TCU matchup.
There's still loads of football to be played, obviously, and all this is based on best-case scenarios.
But hey, there's no harm in wishful thinking, especially since this may be the only way we'll ever see the rivalry renewed.
By the way, an early prediction for a Penn State-Pitt game: Nittany Lions, 31-20.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.