The (Civil) War of the Roses?

SURE, WE'RE GETTING ahead of ourselves here. Oregon State still needs help, and they still need to win out. And Oregon still needs to uphold their end of the bargain against Arizona this coming Saturday. We know all of that. But we also know this -- the stars look to be lining up. And the mostly likely of scenarios? A Civil War for the ages, with the winner earning a Rose Bowl berth.

The various and possible scenarios for Oregon, Arizona and Stanford are a little more involved but the Beavers' is straightforward.

Here's how OSU gets to Pasadena – Oregon State has to win out, with WSU and Oregon remaining on the schedule. And Arizona must lose one of their final three games -- against Oregon, Arizona State or USC.

That's it.

"It doesn't do any good to think about it," said Mike Riley about a possible Rose Bowl berth following the 48-21 beat-down over Washington.

Sorry coach, doing it anyway.

Heck, can't really stop thinking about it ever since Stanford stomped USC and Oregon State waxed Washington -- and with a very down WSU team next up on the Beavers' schedule before the regular season finale in Eugene.

And by the way coach, are you familiar with the internet? I'd be happy to set up a meet and greet. Because it's going to be buzzin' wild on the Rose Bowl topic from here on out.

All joking aside, Riley's reaction is understandable. All coaches are indoctrinated into the belief system that you never, ever publicly count your chickens until they've hatched and do everything in your power to keep your players focused on the task, and opponent, at hand.

Plus, there's that reminder from last year -- the Beavs were in the Rose Bowl driver's seat much of last season but lost their final regular season game to Oregon. Bye-bye Rose Bowl. Hello El Paso.

But last year is last year. Riley may not want to field questions about it but there will be a whole lot of speculation about the Beavers and the Rose Bowl between now and Dec. 3. It's inevitable, for more than a few reasons.

HOW SO? BECAUSE SUDDENLY Oregon State has, on paper, a great shot at the conference championship. (Yes, "conference championship". The Pac-10 insists on naming "co-champions" when teams finish with identical conference records but that's simply someone's bad idea of marketing. You can tell the Pac-10 conference champion by who goes to the Rose Bowl or, in some years, another BCS game –- end of story.)

The Beavs are technically in fourth place as of this moment with a 5-2 conference record (7-3 overall) because Stanford (6-2 Pac-10) has played one more conference game to date. But OSU holds the tiebreaker over Stanford, having beat the Cardinal head to head and technicalities aside, OSU is in third place by the measure that counts most.

Arizona is in second place with a 5-2 Pac-10 record (6-3 overall) and holds the tiebreaker edge over OSU, having beaten the Beavs earlier this year. Like the Ducks, Arizona holds their own destiny in their hands. But it's hard for many -- outside of Tucson -- to envision Arizona winning all three of their remaining games.

Oregon is in first place with a 6-1 mark (8-2 overall). The Ducks and Wildcats meet in Tucson this Saturday –- Oregon should be favored by a good amount. Betting line or not, whoever wins that game is in the top spot.

If Oregon beats Arizona as many expect, consider that the Beavs are about as close to a lock as can be in college football to defeat Washington State in their penultimate regular season game on Saturday.

That would set up a Civil War matchup whereby if the Beavs best the Ducks, they go to the Rose Bowl as they would own the tiebreaker over Oregon in the head to head. Stanford, if they beat Cal, would also have just two conference losses (OSU, Arizona) but the Beavs hold the tiebreaker over the Cardinal.

The most likely opponent in the Rose Bowl for the Pac-10 champion – Ohio State, who clinched the Big 10 title today.

Not that I'm thinking ahead or anything…


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