So I was looking at Pac 10 standings and wondering how bowls were going to shake out. At the beginning of the season, a lot of analysts were touting the Pac 10's depth. And I still think that's a legitimate argument. The Pac-10 went 10 - 4 against BCS conference foes, better than any other conference.*
*Of course that doesn't include OSU's losses against TCU and fBSU. But it does include a 1-point loss by the Pac-10's third or fourth worst team on the road to what could be the Big 10 champion.
Still, it's tough to make the depth claim when (get ready for it) THE PAC 10 COULD FINISH WITH THREE BOWL ELIGIBLE TEAMS. And it's not that far-fetched. Let's take a look at how it could happen:
THE BAVERS (4 - 4)
Victories needed: 2
Games Remaining: WSU, USC, @ Stanford, Oregon
Analysis: They won't have a problem with WSU, but they'll be significant underdogs in each of their last two games. The wild card is a home game against USC. They should win that game, but you never know. USC might decide that winning in Oregon (something they haven't done since 2005) is their newest version of a bowl game. I hope those games against BSU and TCU were worth it (hint: they weren't).
Prediction: 2 - 2 (6 - 6), They'll win their next two, although again, I wouldn't be surprised if they lose to USC
California (5 - 4)
Victories needed: 1
Games remaining: Oregon, Stanford, UW
Analysis: All home games, which is great for Cal because they've looked like Florida circa 2008 at home this year. The problem is that two of those games are against top 10 teams. And the other is against a team that walloped them last year and may have Locker back. Cal will be favored against UW at home, but you can't call that a definite win.
Prediction: 1 - 2 (6 - 6) They should beat UW, but it's not a guarantee
Arizona State (4 - 5)
Victories needed: 3
Games remaining: Stanford, UCLA, @ Arizona
Analysis: Yay for scheduling two FCS teams! ASU has to win out to legitimately be eligible for a bowl, although it's likely that they'd qualify by going 6 - 6 and getting a waiver from the NCAA. The problem? They probably won't even get to 6 - 6. They should beat UCLA at home, but they'll be serious underdogs against Stanford and Arizona.
Prediction: 1 - 2 (5 - 7) They'll beat UCLA at home, but lose the others
UCLA (4 - 5)
Victories needed: 2
Games remaining: @ UW, @ ASU, USC
Analysis: They're done with the big three in the conference (yes, Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona are now "The Big Three;" how times have changed, eh benzduck?), which is great news. But each of these is a losable game. UW is fighting for its bowl life. Same for ASU. And both of those are road games. USC will tout their rivalry as the fifth or sixth different pseudo bowl game they're playing this year, in lieu of the actual bowl game that they can't go to.
Prediction: 1 - 2 (5 - 7) They'll lose to ASU and then to USC
Fuskies (3 - 6)
Victories needed: 3
Games remaining: UCLA, @ Cal, @ WSU
Analysis: They don't have any really tough games remaining, but they'll almost certainly lose one of these.
Prediction: 1 - 2 (4 - 8) My guess is that they beat WSU (although I'd love it if that didn't happen) and lose the other two
Worst Case Scenario (for the Pac 10's bowl appearances)
OSU loses to USC, Cal loses their last three, ASU beats UCLA, UCLA loses to USC, UW loses to UCLA. That would leave the conference like this:
Oregon 12 - 0
Stanford 11 - 1
Arizona 9 - 3 (updated)
USC 9 - 4 (not bowl eligible)
OSU 5 - 7
Cal 5 - 7
ASU 5 - 7
UCLA 5 - 7
UW 5 - 7
WSU 1 - 11
Seriously, folks, that could happen. It's not likely that everything breaks exactly that way, but it's really not far-fetched, given the games remaining. I can't really imagine this is the scenario Larry Scott envisioned at the beginning of the season. In fact, the BEST case scenario (assuming that involves Oregon and Stanford both being in BCS games), involves Cal, OSU, and UCLA all sneaking in with 6 - 6 records, plus a possible waiver for a 6 - 6 ASU (if they beat Arizona and UCLA). That's the BEST case.
In other words, bring on the Pac-12!!!