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Originally published November 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM | Page modified November 28, 2010 at 8:01 PM

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Pac-10 enjoys seeing Stanford so high in BCS

Two teams in BCS bowls could mean big money for Pac-10

Seattle Times college football reporter

Latest from the Husky Football & Basketball blogs


That sound you just heard, right after the clatter of Boise State and Louisiana State falling down the stairs, was a collective, hopeful sigh from Pac-10 Conference athletic directors.

The ADs have a rooting interest in Stanford, which Sunday rose to No. 4 in the Bowl Championship Series standings. If the Cardinal stays there another week — surviving a threat from No. 5 Wisconsin — and Oregon lands successfully in the national-title game, the Pac-10 will automatically have two teams in the BCS.

That's worth about half a million each to a lot of cash-starved athletic departments in the Pac-10. The conference hasn't had two BCS entries since 2002, when Washington State went to the Rose Bowl and USC to the Orange.

The most logical landing spot for Stanford is the Orange Bowl against the ACC winner, although the Cardinal could be jostled to the Fiesta. And it could even end up in the Rose, if Auburn loses this week to South Carolina and Texas Christian jumps to the championship game.

What we learned

ESPN GameDay has relaxed its standards. Chris, Herbie, Corso and Desmond will be in Corvallis this week, which just means the show is sometimes about the visitors, not the home team, which is 5-6. Oregon (11-0), trying to stay unbeaten and crash the BCS title game, will be going against a team that will be lusting for revenge after the Ducks denied it the Rose Bowl the past two seasons.

Imagine: Stanford, a defensive juggernaut. The Cardinal's shutout of Oregon State was OSU's first suffered since 2002, by USC in the early Pete Carroll years. Stanford's whitewash of Washington in October was the Huskies' first home shutout since 1976.

Steve Sarkisian did the right thing. And not only because Chris Polk scored on fourth-and-one to enable Washington to beat California and remain bowl-viable.

Four years ago at Cal, Washington, as a 24-point underdog, scored on a Hail Mary play to close to one point of the Bears. But it did the predictable, Tyrone Willingham kind of thing, kicking the extra point instead of going for two, moving to overtime and watching Marshawn Lynch win the game with a touchdown run.

Taking a risk sends the right message not only to players but to fans. Sometime you have to seize the moment and understand that even if defeat is possible, there's honor in laying it on the line.

They're fighting for crumbs in L.A. USC is 7-5, UCLA 4-7. It's the most combined defeats the two have had entering the cross-city rivalry since 1999. As meager as the spoils are in this game, it's going to be a lot worse for the loser.

Referring to uncertainty on the staff of Rick Neuheisel at UCLA, L.A. Times columnist T.J. Simers wrote, "USC introduced its seniors before the (Notre Dame) game, (Lane) Kiffin greeting each one of them with a handshake and hug ... it will be interesting next week in the Rose Bowl, when the Bruins say their goodbyes, if Norm Chow runs out and hugs Neuheisel."

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This week

Before the Apple Cup, Civil War and Tinseltown Tilt, Arizona and Arizona State meet for the Territorial Cup on Thursday night in Tucson.

Times players

of the week

Offense — Arizona State QB Brock Osweiler came on in relief of injured Steven Threet and rocked UCLA with 27 completions in 36 tries for 380 yards, four passing touchdowns and a run for a score.

Defense — Stanford OLB/DE Chase Thomas had nine tackles, 3.5 for losses and 2.5 for sacks, against OSU.

Special teams — Jamal Miles helped spark ASU with a 99-yard kickoff return for a score.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

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