Mailbag: BCS and Rose Bowl worries

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To the notes.

Dunbar from Front Royal, Va., writes: Besides strength of schedule, the main reason Oregon looks weak to the computers is that the computers are blind to margin of victory. A human will be impressed by a 60-13 victory over UCLA and skeptical of a 3 point win over Kentucky (ala Auburn), but all the computers are allowed to see are Ws over mediocre teams. Interestingly, Sagarin and Massey both have the Ducks at #1 when taking into account score. Now I'm not too worried about Oregon making the NC, provided they win out, but it strikes me that a team like Boise State is the real loser of such a system, since the computers cannot acknowledge how impressive they've been against their admittedly weak schedule. Why the idiotic BCS rule of throwing away good information by not allowing computers to know the margin of victory? And let's not pretend this is about sportsmanship -- the geeks could easily implement a margin-of-victory ceiling.

Ted Miller: I agree. You could install a the margin of victory distinction that only registers to, say, 28 points, which would mean there's no need to score a fourth-quarter touchdown if you're winning by 40. Unless you're Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll is back coaching at USC.

Margin of victory was eliminated from the BCS system in 2001. Now, some Ducks fans may know what's coming, but I'll let Chris Dufresne of the LA Times explain.

The irony: Oregon's national title drive in 2001 was derailed because margin of victory was in the formula -- the Ducks won a lot of close games that year. Oregon finished No. 4 in the BCS despite finishing No. 2 in both polls.

This year, the lack of MOV has hurt Oregon, which has scored several lopsided wins, including a 60-13 decision over UCLA last Thursday.

Hancock said BCS conference commissioners discuss MOV every year but are intent on keeping it out of the computer component.

I think the topic should be revisited.

Jesse from Eugene, Ore., writes: Why do you think Arizona State and Washington State did (comparatively) well against Oregon?

Ted Miller: The first thing that comes to mind is the Ducks were on the road against an opponent they expected to beat, which sometimes inspires a state of mind that produces mediocre to bad performances. Oregon's good enough to win, however, even when it doesn't bring its proverbial "A-game."

In the Washington State game, the Ducks also had to deal with the emotions of Kenjon Barner's scary head injury as well quarterback Darron Thomas leaving the game with a shoulder injury.

As for ASU, I think the Sun Devils had a good plan on defense and executed it well -- including the sprained ankles that healed so, so quickly.

Justin from Butte, Mont., writes: I am a life long CU fan and I'm very excited to join the Pac 12. Obviously CU has some issues to work out, but true CU fans love the team regardless and it seems like you do a great job of reporting on the WSU's of the world as well as USC and Oregon. My only request is that you try to bring Utah and CU into your blogging before the official conference switch. As a Buff fan, the past decade has been spent looking towards the future. 2011 should be a great time on many fronts.

Ted Miller: I've been thinking about doing this -- posting some Utah and Colorado updates so everyone can get to know each other. You'll find that everyone gets along great in the Pac-10 blog and no one trolls. It's all about love.

Just, whatever you do, don't say anything nice about Jake Locker.

Rey from Tucson writes: In regards to the current Pac-10 standings I know it's premature to say who will go to what bowl game but I was wondering in a possible scenario. If Oregon wins out and is headed to the National Championship game and Arizona wins out but loses to Oregon is their a possibility that a 2 loss Arizona team still gets into the Rose Bowl or would Arizona be headed to the Alamo Bowl. I was trying to remember if I've ever seen a two loss team in a BCS game and i can't think of one.

Ted Miller: A two-loss team -- LSU -- won the national title in 2007, a year in which it seemed like no one wanted to win the title. You'll notice that the top-six teams all had two losses, four top-10 teams lost three games (Texas and Boston College were tied at 10th) and No. 12 Tennessee had four losses.

So seasons of chaos have happened before.

If Arizona ends up with two losses, and Oregon plays for the national title, the Wildcats will have a decent chance of playing in the Rose Bowl. You should first root for a non-AQ team to play the Ducks for the title because the Rose Bowl is obligated to select a non-AQ if it loses a Pac-10 or Big Ten team to the national title game. If a non-AQ team does go to the Rose Bowl, then the bowl has the option of picking an eligible team from the Big Ten or Pac-10, and the Big Ten has a reputation for traveling better.

Still, the fact that Arizona has never played in the Rose Bowl should bolster its chances. I know one Rose Bowl executive who'd be in favor of the Wildcats.

Rob from Lafayette, Calif., writes: Lifelong Cal fan here. I know that Tedford says that Riley is head and shoulders above Mansion and Sweeney, but does that also mean that newcomers Austin Hinder and Allan Bridgford are performing at an even lower level? With Riley's graduation looming, who will step up as the best quarterback for the Bears in the years to come?

Ted Miller: That's hard to say. Brock Mansion has broken through as a solid No. 2, but obviously he's not good enough to displace Riley. I don't see him as an overwhelming frontrunner to win the starting job in 2011 heading into the spring.

To be honest, I don't know much about the youngsters. And anything I know now wouldn't be terribly relevant because things will be far different in the spring when the competition begins in earnest.

My feeling, though, is this one will be wide open -- one of the top competitions in the Pac-10.

Bruce from Portland writes: "No. 2 Oregon (7-0, 4-0) at No. 24 USC (5-2, 2-2), ABC" Uh, if you're going to use AP rankings, it's No. 1 Oregon. If you're going to use BCS, USC isn't ranked! I'd prefer that you use AP for both, but it's silly to switch from one to the other in mid-sentence. You're often clever, but silliness doesn't become you.

Ted Miller: Silliness most certainly becomes me. It's probity that I struggle with.

ESPN.com policy is to use the rankings from the BCS standings. USC isn't eligible to be ranked in the BCS standings, the USA Today Coaches Poll or the Harris Poll. So the only way to note the "quality" of USC is to use the AP ranking, if the Trojans have one, as they presently do.

Oregon fans have repeatedly asked about whether USC's NCAA sanctions would hurt the conference -- read: the Ducks -- in the BCS standings. I think pointing out USC's AP ranking helps establish that the Trojans are a quality team, whatever the NCAA ruling.

Nathan from Boston writes: After reading the Duck depth article. How come nobody posts "minutes played" stats in football? Offensive time of position is posted, but minutes played by each player is not. It is posted in Basketball, which like football is start/stop by nature-- and would relevant for understanding how much players are contributing relative to PT, both on offense and defense.

Ted Miller: Minutes played wouldn't be as valuable as "total plays." I know coaches keep track of that, but I've never seen it in the "official" stats that are provided to the media.

But the more I thought about this, I see your point. It would be particularly interesting to keep track of player rotations and personnel groupings.

Ah, and that's probably why it's not provided: It's would be valuable to other coaches.

Everybody from Everywhere writes: Your best case scenario for the Pac-10 is impossible.Oregon can't be 12-0, Stanford 11-1, and Arizona 10-2, since UA lost to Oregon State.

Ted Miller: Yep. That was embarrassing and sloppy on my part. Changed it with Arizona finishing 9-3 (losses to Oregon State already and Stanford and Oregon ahead).

Doesn't change the point, but it certainly is distracting when a reporter can't do basic math.

My bad.

Ian from Corvallis, Ore., writes: Ted you stated an incorrect fact in your chat today. James Rodgers did not play versus ASU. Come on now.

Ted Miller: You are correct. He had a concussion before he hurt his knee.

Mike from Los Angeles writes: As the Pac 10 blogger, I thought I'd forward you this story as well as put in a request. If you don't mind, I think Bruin Fans all around would appreciate it if you'd put a little plug in one of your articles and/or announce it on your twitter. This is a story from BruinsNation about a kid who is going through Cancer and how he is raising money for Pediatric Cancer Research.

Ted Miller: Great stuff. Inspiring. Everyone needs to check out the story.

Tyler, is a gutty little Bruin.

Good luck to him. And keep us updated.