"Our whole goal with this game is to bring people to San Francisco during what is historically the slowest week of the year for our hotels," said John Marks, who heads the visitors bureau and the San Francisco Bowl Game Assn.

Marks estimates that 10,000 out-of-town fans will generate as much as $10 million in direct spending on hotels, meals, local transportation, shopping and game tickets over a three- or four-day period.

But Pac-10 Conference teams need not apply. To ensure that only out-of-towners attend, and that the matchup will be geographically diverse enough for a national ESPN broadcast, organizers have focused on getting teams from outside the region.

They crafted an agreement to take the No. 3 team from the Mountain West Conference -- which includes Colorado State, Air Force Academy and Brigham Young University -- and pit it against the third-, fourth- or fifth-ranked team from the Big East, which counts football powers Pittsburgh, Miami and Virginia Tech among its members.

There also is a special provisional nod to Notre Dame, which is a member of neither the Mountain West nor Big East but could be invited by San Francisco depending on national rankings and other factors.

Notre Dame has "a phenomenal following," said Marks, who added that the bowl's $750,000 payout to each team would be attractive to the Fighting Irish only in a year when they had four or five losses.

The team typically rakes in millions for starring in other bowls, and a single Rose Bowl appearance usually means about $14 million.

One Pasadena hotel manager was elated over the chances of an Irish New Year, remote as they are.

"Notre Dame would be just great!" said Ray Serafin, general manager of the Sheraton Pasadena Hotel.

The top six hotels in the Pasadena area could bring in about $2 million in revenue over New Year's weekend if two teams with loyal, high-spending out-of-town fans get the bowl bid.

At this point in the season, the most likely Rose Bowl matchup is Iowa and Washington State, which should make for an excellent three or four days for Pasadena hotels, restaurants and shops, tourism officials say. Iowa last played in the Rose Bowl in 1991. Big gaps between appearances usually bring out the fans, said John Luke, general manager of the Hilton Pasadena. (Notre Dame hasn't been to the Rose Bowl in 78 years.)

Washington State, which last played in the Rose Bowl in 1998, has the advantage of being one of the four Pac-10 school in the Pacific Northwest, a relief to the local hospitality community, which doesn't like to see UCLA and USC in the big game.

But Saturday's college football scores gave pause to the Pasadena tourism industry. USC's 52-21 thrashing of UCLA combined with the University of Washington's triple overtime victory over rival Washington State increased the chances of the dreaded local-team scenario. A UCLA upset over Washington State on Dec. 7 would hand USC the Pac-10 championship and an automatic Rose Bowl bid.

"When it is a local team, people come out for the game," said Leann Lampe of the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau, "but they don't fill the hotels."