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Monday, November 23, 2009
Best-case scenarios: Rooting interests over the next two weekends

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Oregon State's stakes are much bigger than Oregon's in the Civil War on Dec. 3 in Autzen Stadium.

How so? Aren't both teams playing for the Rose Bowl?

Well, yes. The winner is going to the Rose Bowl.

But, in the event of a loss, the Ducks and Beavers will have far different bowl fates.

If Oregon loses, it's going to the Holiday Bowl as the Pac-10's No. 2 team. End of story.

Of Oregon State loses, the most likely scenarios have the Beavers dropping all the way to the Las Vegas Bowl, which is the conference's No. 5 bowl.

Why?

Because there are no tiebreakers in bowl selection procedures. If, say, four teams finish at 6-3 in conference play, the Holiday Bowl can pick any of them it wishes. And it's going to pick the team it figures will: 1. Buy the most tickets; 2. Boost TV ratings.

So, if Oregon State gets passed over for the Holiday Bowl, why wouldn't it go to the Sun or Emerald Bowls?

Well, the the Beavers played in the Sun Bowl last year and the bowl game has the option of using a no-repeat clause. It probably would.

As for the Emerald Bowl, it wants a Bay Area team, either Stanford or California. And it has the option of picking either the conference's No. 4 team or No. 5 team. So it could not only take a Stanford team that lost to Oregon State, it could take a Cal team that: 1. Lost to the Beavers; 2. Finished a game behind the Beavers in the standings. It's the bowl's option.

That's how the Beavers could fall to the Las Vegas Bowl.

Here is an outline of rooting interests for the Pac-10's bowl-eligible teams.

Arizona

Goal: Holiday Bowl. California

Goal: Holiday Bowl. Oregon

Goal: Rose Bowl or bust. Oregon State

Goal: Rose Bowl, of course, but, failing that, Holiday Bowl Stanford

Goal: Holiday Bowl. UCLA

Goal: A guaranteed bowl berth. USC

Goal: Holiday Bowl.