Will any team mired in the bottom-middle of the Pac-10 get hot down the stretch? It sure would make the conference's bowl partners happy.
With Oregon State's stunning loss to Washington State, it's becoming increasingly likely that only four conference teams will earn bowl eligibility, barring any special waiver from the NCAA for 5-7 teams to play in contracted bowl games.
Oregon, Stanford and Arizona are already bowl eligible. If Oregon wins out, it almost certainly will play for the national title. If Stanford wins out, and the Ducks play a non-AQ team for the title, the Cardinal will play in the Rose Bowl. After that, Stanford's status is fluid. Could it earn an at-large invitation to a BCS bowl game? Or will it possibly be relegated to the Alamo Bowl?
If Arizona loses to Oregon and beats Arizona State, it figures to end up in the Alamo Bowl or the Holiday Bowl. We are projecting California to end up 6-6 after losing to Stanford and beating Washington at home in the season-finale, which would put the Bears in the Holiday or Sun Bowl.
And the Las Vegas Bowl and Kraft Fight Hunger bowl, in our projection, would have to look elsewhere for teams.
Of course, there are possibilities for UCLA and Washington and even Arizona State.
The Bruins (4-5) play at Washington (Thursday night), at Arizona State and play host to USC. It's not implausible to imagine them winning two of three. Of course, they will have to show some toughness on the road, which they did at Texas.
Washington (3-6) plays the Bruins, at California and at Washington State. It's not implausible to imagine the Huskies winning all three, though the visit to Cal looks a bit daunting.
As for Arizona State (4-6), it needs to beat UCLA and win at Arizona to reach .500. If it does, it's likely the Sun Devils would be a candidate for a waiver that would allow them to play in a bowl game, despite getting to six wins with two victories against FCS foes.
And it's not that hard to be sympathetic to that position. The Sun Devils' two FCS foes are not really that much weaker than the nonconference patsies a number of other 6-6 and 7-5 teams will have played.
The Bruins, however, look like the swing team, with remaining games against Washington and Arizona State. If they manage to get a fifth win at Washington, it wouldn't be hard to see them splitting their final two games and getting to 6-6.
Tostitos BCS National Championship Game: Oregon vs. BCS team [a non-AQ]
Rose Bowl Game: Stanford vs. Big Ten
Valero Alamo: Arizona vs. Big 12
Bridgepoint Education Holiday: California vs. Big 12
Hyundai Sun: No team.
MAACO Las Vegas: No team
Kraft Fight Hunger: No team.