Rose Bowl berth still up for grabs

By Eric Wein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

EUGENE, Ore. At both ends of the field, the bright yellow goalposts stood in the barren Autzen Stadium after Saturday's game.

Green-clad fans had stormed the field at the game's conclusion with hopes of taking them down. But the posts had withstood the assault, perhaps signifying that Oregon's first Rose Bowl berth since 1958 was still far from settled. Basically, the Ducks' win over Arizona means only that the Wildcats will not go unbeaten in conference play, as far as postseason plans go.

As they packed up their gear on their way out, the Arizona players sensed the Pacific 10 Conference race is yet to be determined and they are still in the thick of it even if Oregon now has the upper hand.

"Nobody said this was going to be easy," UA coach Dick Tomey said. "But there's still a lot of football to be played."

Arizona, Oregon, Washington State and Southern Cal are locked in a tie for the Pac-10 lead.

With even the bottom conference teams playing tough, it's doubtful all four will remain standing near the end. Because each still has to face its rival, upsets are likely.

"We know we have to stay focused," quarterback Dan White said. "When we lost to

UCLA last year we thought we were out of it. But if we had beaten Cal, we would have gone to the Rose Bowl."

The Bruins finished with two conference losses last year but advanced to Pasadena by virtue of head-to-head wins over the other two Pac-10 co-champions, Arizona and USC. In '92, Arizona would have gone to the Rose Bowl by winning its last two, but lost both.

"We've been down this road the last couple of years," Tomey said. "In each case, teams lost games. You can't look at the scoreboard and worry about who's playing who. We need to take care of our own end of things."

With none of the four top teams winning in any dominant fashion, the conference title clearly looks up for grabs. The Pac-10 could again have a champion with two conference losses.

"By no means are we out of it," kicker Steve McLaughlin said. "If we look at the past we'll have a tough time focusing on what's next."

The Wildcats will be finished in a hurry if they don't respond with better performances against Cal, USC and Arizona State the remainder of their schedule.

"Our guys will put aside the pain and focus on next week," Tomey said. "It's easy to put it aside. We realize we can get back on the winning track. We're still in this thing."

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