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BlogPoll Roundtable: The Plot Thickens

The legendary Peter Bean over at Burnt Orange Nation is hosting the roundtable this week.  Here it goes:

1. Handicap your team's chances to win your conference championship. If your team is not the favorite, who is?

Obviously, USC is always the favorite to win the Pac-10 title until proven otherwise.  We all saw how they went into Lincoln and obliterated Nebraska.  SC is Goliath and is the clear favorite to win not only the conference, but the national championship.

That being said, Oregon has some things going for it that gives it a realistic shot at the thing.  They get both Cal and SC at home.  If they can split those games, you know that nobody is getting out of this conference unscathed.  Oregon is playing really well right now.  I think that they match up well with Cal, not as well with SC.  I give them a 20% chance to get at least a share of the conference title at this point.  You basically have to split with Cal/SC, not drop another game, and have the team you lose to drop one to somebody else.

2. Outline the (realistic) best case and worst case scenarios for your team.
Well, I think that when you're still undefeated, the best case scenario is always going undefeated and playing in the National Championship game.  But the Pac-10 is absolutely brutal, and I don't think that anybody, even USC, is going to get through it without a loss somewhere.  I think that the most realistic best case scenario is to split with Cal/SC, not blow one somewhere else, and end up with an 11-1 record and a Rose Bowl berth.  If we were to tie with SC at 11-1 for the conference title, I think that both teams would make the BCS, with the Rose Bowl, who, if given the option, usually chooses the team who hasn't been there longest, choosing the Ducks.

Worst case scenario is a repeat of last year.  Great start.  Nuclear finish.  I'm not going to elaborate further.  There is too much pain.

3. We're only three games in to the season, but teams and storylines are starting to take shape. Compare your team to a character or theme from a fable or children's tale.

I don't even know where to begin with this question.  Oregon is the Little Engine the Could.  Can we get over the hill that is USC?  We think we can, we think we can.  Now, we just have to go out there and do it.

4. Imagine you're the coach of your team. Give three specific changes you'd implement immediately which you think would have the biggest impact on improving the team.

Its really hard to answer this question because the team is playing so well right now.  Obviously, things could be done to make it better.  The tackling could improve, and the team need to stop coming out flat in the second half.  But those aren't really coaching changes--they're just players needing to play better in certain situations.

I really can't recommend any coaching changes at this point.  Offensively, they are running all over their opponents in every which direction.  Nobody has even come close to stopping them.  And the defense has improved dramatically every game.  As critical as I am of Aliotti, he has done a great job the last two games of mixing blitz packages and getting pressure on the quarterback, and the secondary has been doing a phenomenal job.  When you've won every game by at least three touchdowns, its hard to criticize.  Ooh, I thought of one:

  1.  No more QB sneaks on short situations.  You have Jonathan freaking Stewart, use him.  Dixon isn't running anybody over.  Stewart is.
USC, LSU/Florida, and Oklahoma have established themselves as the frontrunners in the early going. Which other team or teams are you eyeballing as potential BCS party crashers?

Everyone besides those four are clearly a very outside shot.  Obviously, if the winner of Oregon/Cal then goes on to beat SC, they clearly have to be taken seriously.  I also think that the winner of Ohio State/Penn State would have a shot to be undefeated as well.  With the terrible non-conference schedules they've played, I'm just not sure that West Virginia or Rutgers would have the SOS even if they did go undefeated.  And, while obviously not going to the championship game, watch out for Hawaii to potentially steal a BCS bid.