By Joel Flom
Figuring out Pac-10 race a confusing task
So the Pacific 10 Conference football race feels more confusing than a man does shopping for his wife in Victoria's Secret. The possibilities seem endless, but there are a few solutions.
As the conference heads into the final two weeks of play, the Rose Bowl berth could be decided as early as Saturday when Washington battles Washington State and UCLA takes on USC.
The Cougars and Bruins, along with Arizona State, are tied atop the Pac-10 standings with six wins to one loss.
Should all three teams end up tied for first place, Washington State will receive the Rose Bowl berth thanks to the strength of its overall record.
Washington State seems to have the best shot, needing just a win over Washington and either a Arizona State loss or UCLA win. The Cougars win a two-team tie breaker with UCLA because of their season-opening victory over the Bruins.
"Who would have ever thought that the first Pac-10 game of the season (WSU's 37-34 victory over UCLA on Aug. 30) would determine who goes to the Rose Bowl? I didn't," UCLA wide receiver James McElroy said.
For UCLA to make an appearance at the Rose Bowl, they must defeat USC and have Washington defeat Washington State.
Arizona State can make a repeat appearance with a win over Arizona and a USC win against UCLA. Should the Sun Devils and Cougars tie for first, ASU goes to the Rose Bowl thanks to its win over WSU three weeks ago.
Should ASU and UCLA tie, the Bruins will go because ASU went more recently.
Arizona's only chance is for every team to pull a Notre Dame and decide the Rose Bowl is just not good enough to attend.
If you want the Bruins to stay at home for the Rose Bowl, you might want to consider cheering for the Washington Huskies. This is what McElroy has had to do.
"If we would have lost this game (against Washington last weekend), I would have been so depressed," the Husky hater said. "I'd have died to see them in the Rose Bowl."
Now, however, McElroy has proclaimed himself Washington's "biggest fan."
Although McElroy may be pulling for the Huskies, the boys in Pullman seem to feel pretty confident about their chances.
"I think that we can compete with the University of Washington," WSU head coach Mike Price said. "We don't have to play above our heads, and honestly I think some years, we've had to do that."
Washington State is also breaking from tradition this year. Instead of the traditional bus ride to Seattle, the team will fly on Friday.
As for the Sun Devils, they will be adopting USC as their favorite team.
"I'm hoping that UCLA loses next week," ASU outside linebacker Pat Tillman said. "It's going great. We just got to keep winning. We've got one more to go and then hopefully we'll go to a bowl game."
So, how does Arizona play into all of this? An upset win over the Sun Devils will help put Washington State in the Rose Bowl and could give them an outside shot at a smaller size bowl game.
Scott Bricker and the Associated Press contributed to this report
Pacific 10 Conference Standings
Conference Overall 1. Washington St. 6-1 9-1 Arizona St. 6-1 8-2 UCLA 6-1 8-2 4. Washington 5-2 7-3 5. USC 4-3 6-4 6. Arizona 3-4 5-5 7. Oregon 2-5 5-5 Stanford 2-5 4-6 9. California 1-6 3-7 10. Oregon St. 0-7 3-7