Breaking down the Pac-10 race

Four teams remain in the Rose Bowl hunt and none of them are USC.

Six teams already are bowl eligible. Only Washington and Washington State have been eliminated from bowl contention.

Five teams are ranked in this week's BCS standings -- most of any conference -- but none in the top 10.

So the Pac-10 has been about depth, not excellence, this year.

Or maybe it's just hard to appear excellent with all this depth?

You can read about the Rose Bowl tie-breaking procedure here, but here's a breakdown of where things stand.


In a sentence: Alone atop the conference, the Ducks control their own destiny, but they also face two Rose Bowl contenders in their last two games.

Remaining schedule: at Arizona, Oregon State

Wants to avoid: Losing the Civil War -- that would be the killer, in more ways than one.

Verdict: Over the course of the entire season, the Ducks have looked like the best team in the conference, so we're projecting them earning the Rose Bowl berth.

Oregon State

In a sentence: Very quietly, the Beavers have positioned themselves to earn a Rose Bowl berth if they beat the rival Ducks.

Remaining schedule: at Washington State, at Oregon

Wants to avoid: A tie with Arizona, which beat the Beavers 37-32 on Sept. 26.

Verdict: Arizona's loss to California was big for Oregon State. If you believe the Wildcats won't win-out against Oregon, Arizona State and USC, then it's all about the Civil War with the Ducks.


In a sentence: The loss at California gave away the Wildcats one-game cushion, but they still control their own destiny.

Remaining schedule: Oregon, at Arizona State, at USC.

Wants to avoid: Losing. The Wildcats already beat Stanford and Oregon State, so they will prevail in any tiebreaker with a two-loss team.

Verdict: The Wildcats figure to lose once during their tough final stretch.


In a sentence: Stanford, which is playing as well as any team in the conference, needs some help, but it also needs to beat rival California.

Remaining schedule: California, Notre Dame

Wants to avoid: A tie with Arizona or Oregon State, which both beat the Cardinal.

Verdict: This is what Stanford needs: a win over Cal in the Big Game. Arizona beats Oregon. Oregon beats Oregon State. Arizona loses another game. That's completely plausible.