THE ROAD TO ... Pasadena
For a long time, the Pac-10 seemed like a battle of lilliputians vs. Gulliver. But a funny thing happened one day in Oregon. The lilliputians won.
Victory at last!
There is an outside chance -- a largely outside chance -- that the conference winner could make it into the NC game. Granted, that would take a five- or six-team meltdown of almost unprecented proportions, but it could happen.
Otherwise, you get to go to the Rose Bowl, where you have to play a game named after a flower and played after dozens of elderly Pasadena residents watch a parade. Hooray!
The conference right now is thusly: California is 6-0 in the league, USC-West is right behind them at 5-1 and both Oregon teams are 4-2.
So all eyes are on California, and particularly their Nov. 18 game against Gulli ... I mean, USC-West. Around that showdown, the Golden Bears square off against Arizona on the road (Saturday) and Stanford at home (Dec. 2). Essentially, Cal needs to win the USC-West game and one of the other two to seal up the conference crown.
If they don't, things get really interesting. Lose to USC-West, and the Trojans are in control of the league, assuming they win Saturday's game against Oregon -- by no means a sure bet. But if USC-West wins its next two games, it would hold the tiebreaker over Cal and would need only a victory at UCLA to wrap things up.
The long-shots are the two Oregon teams. The Ducks wrap up with the USC-West game, a visit from Arizona (11/18) and the Civil War (11/24). Oregon State has two games before the Civil War -- visits to UCLA and Stanford. That means that the Civil War winner will be the dark horse in the case of a joint Cal/USC-West collapse.
Good luck, lilliputians. The rest of the nation is still behind you.