Rose Bowl breakdown

By Patrick Klein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

OK, class, come to attention. Today's question is ...

Four teams are traveling to Pasadena and hope to arrive there Jan. 2. Given that each team is 4-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference heading into this weekend's game, and assuming each team is traveling at a constant speed over equally rocky roads, which of the four teams Washington State, Arizona, Oregon or Southern Cal will arrive in Pasadena in time for the Rose Bowl?

Anyone ... ?

OK, so the Race for the Roses has not even begun to enter the home stretch yet, but the Pac-10 is gearing up for the possibility of a two- or three-way tie for first place when the regular season ends Nov. 25.

In this week's media release, the conference included a copy of the Rose Bowl Selection Procedures. Due to its complicated nature, only those experienced in understanding VCR instruction manuals are advised to read further.

If two teams finish tied for first ...

If the teams played each other, the head-to-head winner goes to the Rose Bowl. Because each of the four teams will have played each other by the end of the season, this would be the easy part.

If three or more teams finish tied for first ...

The Pac-10 first looks at head-to-head competition to see if one team has beaten the other teams.

If no one team has beaten all the others, and because none of the four potential conference representatives will be ranked either first or second in the final regular season Associated Press or USA Today/CNN polls (which is the second tiebreaker), the conference reverts to assigning points for wins during the season four points for a conference win, three points for a non-conference win against a Division I-A team, two points for a non-conference win against a non-Division I-A team, two points for a conference tie, one and a half points for a non-conference tie against a Division I-A team and one point for a non-conference tie against a non-Division I-A team.

By using that point system, the teams are ranked. The two teams with the most points stay alive.

If there is a tie for the second spot, the teams that tied are judged based on head-to-head records if that does not produce a winner, the team that has not appeared in the Rose Bowl the longest would be the second team.

Once the two teams are determined, they get judged by their head-to-head record, then their point total and failing that, the team that most recently appeared in the Rose Bowl will be eliminated.

Questions? Good, on with the rest.

The suddenly red-hot, 21st-ranked Oregon Ducks (6-3 overall, 4-1 in the Pac-10) take on the rejuvenated Arizona State Sun Devils in Eugene, Ore., this weekend. While the Sun Devils (3-5, 2-3) pulled off the upset last Saturday of then-No. 21 BYU 36-15, they are out of the Rose Bowl race. But this game still has a lot of meaning, ASU coach Bruce Snyder said.

"I don't care who's in the driver's seat, if we win it will be another league win for us, it will keep alive our goal of not having a losing season, and it will get us closer to the six wins we need to go to a bowl game that's reason to play hard and practice hard," Snyder said.

Both Washington State (6-2, 4-1) and USC (5-2, 4-1) are approaching their game this weekend in Pullman as an elimination game, with the loser probably out of the Rose Bowl race.

"It's like the NFL playoffs," Trojan coach John Robinson said. "Lose one and you're out, if you keep winning you're okay."

Cougar coach Mike Price was not bashful about this weekend.

"The USC game is one of the biggest games in my tenure at Washington State," Price said. "The Arizona game was a big game, but there were still a lot of games to be played."

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