The Arizona Wildcats' Holiday Bowl berth still seems too good to be true, but that's OK.
The UA players have plenty of time to soak it in.
The Wildcats will take the next three days off to focus on final exams before beginning preparation for the Dec. 30 game against Nebraska.
Arizona's coaches will spend most of this week on the road, coach Mike Stoops is headed to New York for Thursday's Home Depot College Football Awards, and most of the assistants are out recruiting.
Arizona (8-4) forged a tie for second place in the Pac-10 with a 21-17 win over USC on Saturday. The Holiday Bowl chose No.22 UA over 16th-ranked Oregon State and 19th-ranked Stanford.
The Wildcats will face the 20th-ranked Cornhuskers, who lost to Texas in the Big 12 title game Saturday.
"With the time off, we can rest and have fun these last few weeks as a team," senior safety Cam Nelson said. "It'll give Coach Stoops an opportunity to get a good game plan together. I think time will be a good thing for us."
The long break between games should do wonders for the Wildcats' health. Quarterback Nick Foles (broken hand), tailback Nicolas Grigsby (separated shoulder), wide receiver David Douglas (bruised thigh) and cornerback Trevin Wade (concussion) limped through the final month of the season.
All four should all be 100 percent by the Holiday Bowl.
"The guys are beat up, but we did well through the last four games," Foles said. "It'll be nice for everyone to take a little break. … It'll be nice to catch up on our schoolwork and finish strong."
Grigsby and Douglas haven't played since last month's double-overtime loss to Oregon.
Foles played the last two weeks with a broken left (nonthrowing) hand. A USC defender stepped on it during Foles' 1-yard touchdown sneak Saturday, causing a considerable amount of pain but no additional structural damage.
Wade suffered the concussion in the second half against USC and was replaced by backup Marcus Benjamin. Before getting hurt, Wade intercepted Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley.
Not that he remembers much of it.
"The first thing he asked me after the game was, 'How was I doing?' I told him he gave up three touchdowns," Nelson said with a chuckle. "I think he's going to try to watch the film and get his memory back."
Cats left off Pac-10 Conference team
Arizona's players were noticeably absent from the Pac-10 Conference awards, which were announced Monday.
No Wildcat earned first-team all-conference honors.
Center Colin Baxter, offensive tackle Adam Grant, defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, linebacker Xavier Kelley, Nelson and Wade were all second-team selections. Four UA players - defensive end Ricky Elmore, cornerback Devin Ross, linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka and Foles - received honorable mention.
Stanford tailback Toby Gerhart and Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield highlighted the first-team offense, with Gerhart - a Heisman Trophy finalist - earning offensive player of the year awards. UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price was the defensive player of the year, and Oregon tailback LaMichael James and Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict earned freshman accolades.
The Pac-10 Coach of the Year award went to Oregon's Chip Kelly. The Ducks will play Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
• Mitchell was named the Pac-10's defensive player of the week for his efforts against USC. Mitchell had six tackles and two sacks against the Trojans, his second quarterback takedown coming on the game's final play.
"I guess I'm getting better as the season continued. You don't want to take a step backward - you always want to move forward," he said. "I think I did pretty good (Saturday). I came up in the end pretty good."
• Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops figures to speak with Youngstown State officials this week to discuss the school's vacant head coaching job. The Penguins fired coach Jon Heacock two weeks ago; Stoops said twice last week that he would withhold comment on any job until after the Cats' regular season.
Another UA assistant coach could emerge as a head coaching candidate. Rivals.com recruiting service reported that inside receivers coach Garret Chachere is being considered for the job at Louisiana-Monroe. Chachere, a Louisiana native, coached at Monroe in 1998.