The College Football Notebook

December 2, 2010 7:50 AM

Could Oregon State Shock Oregon?

CanOregonBeStopped.jpgOregon is one step from playing for the national championship and only Oregon State stands in their way of being in Glendale on January 10. It reminds one of 2006, when USC needed only beat a mediocre archrival in UCLA to secure a spot in the title game...the Trojans lost. Could a similar fate await the Ducks on Saturday (3:30 ET, ABC)?

On pure football merits, I really can't see any way Oregon State wins this game. The Beaver defense is not up to snuff, and while they've had some good moments in what is thus far a 5-6 season, they have done nothing to suggest they can slow down Oregon. They have some possibilities offensively, with Jacquizz Rodgers running and receiving, but you don't beat Oregon in a scoring race. But there's another side to the question and it's this--Oregon's been playing with fire lately. Their narrow escape at Cal was the first prominent example. They took their time getting untracked against Arizona last Friday. Playing that type of fast-break football is tough to do for an entire season without stumbling at least once. If you believe there's merit to looking at a game in this overarching contest--and I do--then you have to think this is a danger spot for Oregon. The fact they are playing on the road, in a rivalry game, against an opponent who has to win to make a bowl game only heightens the prospects. I don't quite have it in me to pick an upset--this game won't draw me away from Auburn-South Carolina going on at the same time, but there's enough little upset signs sitting out there, that I'll least have a close eye on it to see if the Beavers can be in the game at halftime.

Arizona hosts Arizona State tonight to start the final weekend of the regular season (8 ET, ESPN). It's another rivalry spot with one team fighting to become bowl-eligible, although with the 5-6 Sun Devils that does have an asterisk. Two of their wins came against Division I-AA competition and are officially ineligible--but ASU has applied for a waiver with the NCAA. They have to win tonight for the application to matter. Brock Osweiler's playing very well at quarterback since taking over for Steven Threet, after the freshman suffered a concussion. But Nick Foles is playing even better for Arizona and in Tucson, the Wildcats will be ready to go.

Continuing the theme of bowl fights in rivalry games, Washington (5-6) needs to beat Washington State. The Cougars are showing some signs of life after spending the last couple seasons at the dregs of Division I. Playing at home, I suspect they spoil Jake Locker's finale and pull the upset. And the final game of the Pac-10 season will be at 10:30 EST when USC visits UCLA. The Bruins have lost their last two games and been eliminated from bowl contention. USC is on probation and has looked like a team with little to play for. I suppose if nothing else, the city of Los Angeles' football teams have finally found parity with each other.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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