It's the final week of the regular season and for the first time ever, a Pac-10 team besides USC could get into the national title game. Other teams have chances in the past, but it didn't happen for various reasons. Luckily for Oregon, the formula for making the title game is simple. If they beat Oregon St. they will play for the national title. If only the rest of the Pac-10's bowl scenarios were as simple. What is assured is that the Pac-10 will not fulfill all of its bowl obligations thanks to UCLA and Cal's losses last weekend. What's amazing is that it is possible that only three Pac-10 teams are bowl eligible, something that will become reality if Washington, Oregon St. and Arizona St. all lose and an argument could be made that all three are underdogs on Saturday.
Player of the Week: Brock Osweiler, Arizona St.- When Steven Threet was injured against UCLA, Arizona St. was already trailing and looking inept so having to bring in a back up quarterback was only going to make things worse, right? Wrong. Osweiler lit up a Bruin defense that never posed a threat to the signal caller and as a result, Osweiler threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns on 27 of 36 passing in a great performance by the sophomore.
Stat of the Week: $450,000- Should Stanford hold on to a top four BCS ranking, they will be guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl and every Pac-10 team will get $450,000 as their share of the pay out.
Game of the Week: Oregon at Oregon St., 12:30 pm PDT, ABC- Last season Oregon beat Oregon St. in the season finale to clinch a spot in the Rose Bowl. This year the Ducks are playing for a bit more. A win over the Beavers puts the Ducks into the national title game, but the Beavers also need the win to get bowl eligible. The Civil War has plenty on the line this year without the venom that comes with the rivalry game. Add in that venom and the game is a firecracker.
Pac-10 Power Poll (First Place Votes in Parentheses)
1) Oregon Ducks, 11-0 (8)- Once again Oregon started slowly and let their opponent hang around for a half or so and once again the Ducks turned it on late with a dominating second half performance that put the game away rather comfortably. That has become the script for Oregon and through 11 games they've yet to be beaten so a single win separates them from the national title game. This being the Pac-10, that final win that they need is against their rival so it's going to be a rough one, as rivalry games always are. Last Week: 1
2) Stanford Cardinal, 11-1- A one loss season with their only loss coming against the nation's top team on the road is an awfully impressive season and doing it at Stanford is incredible, but that's what happened this season. Eight of Stanford's wins came by 23 points or more making it clear that the Cardinal weren't just a good team in 2010, they were a dominant one. The Cardinal capped it off with a 38-0 beat down of Oregon St. last weekend. It looks like Stanford will be properly rewarded for their great season with a BCS bowl, although there is still an outside chance at them playing for the national title. That would require Oregon and Auburn to lose this weekend and while unlikely, it is still possible. Last Week: 2
3) Arizona Wildcats, 7-4- A loss to Oregon isn't enough to bump the Wildcats from their third place spot, especially considering that Arizona gave the Ducks a run for a while. As late as the third quarter the Wildcats were ahead thanks to Nick Foles throwing for 448 yards, but the defense that looked so strong early in the season surrendered over 500 total yards in the 48-29 loss. Three consecutive losses would make it seem as if the Wildcats were reeling, but the last two have been to Oregon and Stanford so there is no shame in those losses. Despite the high expectations that have gone unreached this season, crushing Arizona St.'s bowl hopes this weekend to put the bow on an eight-win season is still a good one for the Wildcats. Last Week: 3
4) Arizona St. Sun Devils, 5-6- Down multiple scores easily and without their starting quarterback, Arizona St. looked dead in the water, but then Brock Osweiler stepped in and threw the ball up, down and all around the field to torch the UCLA defense. The Sun Devils' defense stepped up too to slow the Bruins down enough for the offense to roll to victory. Every time the defense would give some points up, the offense would respond and even special teams got involved when Jamal Miles ran a kick off back for a touchdown that essentially put the game to bed. A reeling Arizona team is up next in a rivalry game that Arizona St. needs for bowl eligibility. Last Week: 6
5) Washington Huskies, 5-6- Like Arizona St., Washington needs to beat their rival to get bowl eligible this week. That it only the case because the Huskies went down to Memorial Stadium, a place where Cal had been very good all season, and pulled out a nailbiter. On the one yard line and trailing by three, Washington decided to go for it and the win on the game's final play instead of the field goal to force overtime. The decision paid off when Chris Polk crossed the goal line and the Huskies came away 16-13 winners with their bowl hopes intact. Washington St. has been playing better of late and the Apple Cup is in Pullman this year though so bowl eligibility is hardly assured. Last Week: 9
6) Oregon St. Beavers, 5-6- If Oregon St. doesn't beat Oregon on Saturday and finishes without the six wins necessary to become bowl eligible then they will automatically become the poster child for why scheduling tough doesn't pay off. A shut out loss to Stanford last week kept the Beavers from getting bowl eligible and now they have to beat the nation's top team to do it. Non-conference games against TCU, Boise St. and Louisville, of which they only won one, don't look so smart now. That said, Oregon St. still has a chance to get bowl eligible and spoil things for their rivals all at home so hope is not lost yet. Last Week: 4
7) USC Trojans, 7-5- Back up quarterback or not, losing to Notre Dame stings the Trojans and losing at home only more so. It gets worse when the Domers were also using a back up quarterback and SC got chances to win the game, but botched them all. The most obvious of errors was Ronald Johnson dropping a pass while wide open down field for what would have been an easy touchdown, but there were several errors. In a probation season there isn't a ton to play for, but the 2010 version of the Trojans, in Lane Kiffin's first year, may be a six loss team with losses to both Notre Dame and UCLA. That hurts and lingers no matter what season it is so you can bet Saturday's visit to the Rose Bowl holds plenty of significance. Last Week: 5
8) California Golden Bears, 5-7- The identity of Cal in 2010 had been that of a team which played exceptionally at home, but was abysmal on the road. With that understood, a home game to finish off the season against a Washington team that is not a powerhouse by any means seemed like a win in the bag, but a touchdown on the final play of the game sealed both a Washington win and Cal's bowl ineligibility. The Golden Bears will have to get good at watched football on TV during their bye week Saturday because now they will be watching the postseason from home. Last Week: 7
9) Washington St. Cougars, 2-9- Strange scheduling left the Cougars with consecutive bye weeks before their Apple Cup game with Washington. You can look at that as an opportunity to get rusty or healthy and game plan for the biggest game of the year. Which it is is a toss up, but there's not a doubt that Saturday is huge for Wazzu and head coach Paul Wulff. A loss to the Huskies puts Wulff's job on the line, but a three win season where there was noticeable improvement and an Apple Cup win makes everything look a lot better. Last Week: 8
10) UCLA Bruins, 4-7- A hot start led to nothing as UCLA turned a 17-0 lead into a 55-34 defeat thanks to a defense that look horrific. Nobody would confuse the Bruins offense last Saturday against Arizona St. with the UCLA offenses of the '97 or '98, but it got the job done for the most part. The defense did not though and to make things worse, the UCLA special teams faltered as well. Now UCLA cannot go to a bowl game and the 2010 season is officially a disappointment that fell short of expectations. That said, beating USC goes a long way and the Bruins have a fighting chance against a beat up Trojan team. Last Week: 10