Untangling a potential tie in the Pac-10

  • John Sleeper / College Football Report
  • Thursday, October 26, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Clearly, Oregon is in the driver’s seat. The car is gassed up, the motor’s running and the emergency brake is off.

A Rose Bowl likely is in the seventh-ranked Ducks’ future. At 4-0 in the Pacific-10 Conference, 6-1 overall, the toughest part of Oregon’s schedule is in the rearview mirror. It has beaten Washington, UCLA, USC and Arizona.

Autzen Stadium has become the scourge of conference teams, and the Ducks have taken full advantage.

But if they falter …

Hey, it’s possible. Three of Oregon’s final four games are on the road, including the season finale at Oregon State on Nov. 18. The Ducks won’t have Autzen to lean on. And maybe, just maybe, Washington, Oregon State or Arizona – all of which have just one conference defeat – can sneak through.

So what happens if Oregon falls, to either Arizona State, Washington State, Cal or Oregon State? The wonderful world of tiebreakers determines the conference champ.

Head-to-head competition breaks a two-way tie. Oregon has that advantage over Washington and Arizona. Washington beat Oregon State and plays Arizona at Husky Stadium on Nov. 4. Arizona plays Oregon State the week after.

A three-team tie is the only other possible scenario.

If one team has defeated all the others, it will be the conference champion. If one team has lost to the other two, it will be eliminated from consideration and the two-team tiebreaker kicks in.

The four frontrunners all will have played each other. So barring a tie, the champion will be clear-cut. However, had that not been the case, a complex points system would be in effect. And we can all thank The Good Lawd it isn’t.

For masochists who really want to know, a team gets four points for a conference victory; three for a non-conference win over a Division I-A team; two points for a non-conference win over a non-Division I-A team; two for a conference tie; 1 1/2 points for a non-conference tie against a Division I-A team; and one for a non-conference tie against a non-Division I-A team.

Total the points, and you have the Pac-10 champ.

  • Kickoff: 2 p.m. Saturday.

  • TV, radio: No TV, KOMO radio (1000 AM).

  • Stars to watch: Washington – Freshman tailback Rich Alexis makes his second start, in place of Paul Arnold, who has an assortment of injuries. Quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo became the first player in Division I to rush for 200 yards and pass for 300 yards in the same game against Stanford last year. The target is on his chest. Tight end Jerramy Stevens and wideout Todd Elstrom have been the most consistent receivers on a team that has no deep threat. On defense, nose tackle Larry Tripplett is having an all-conference season. Linebacker Derrell Daniels seemingly is in on every play. Free safety Hakim Akbar is a rare talent who can devastate the run and cover fleet wideouts.

    Stanford – Quarterback Randy Fasani is a battler who has withstood knee injuries to become a solid passer. Wideout DeRonnie Pitts leads the Pac-10 in receptions, with 51. Tailback Kerry Carter is emerging into one of the better runners in the conference, and scored four TDs against USC. Outside linebacker Riall Johnson, a Mariner High School grad, leads the conference in sacks, with eight. Safeties Aaron Focht and Tank Williams are two of the more active secondary players in the nation and linebacker Coy Wire is dangerous in blitz packages.

  • Breaking down the game: If the Cardinal can contain Tuiasosopo, Stanford has a chance. The game likely will be played in heavy rain, which may take away his agility. The Washington ground game must emerge here against a defense that has trouble stopping the run. Stanford’s balanced attack will keep the Husky defense honest. Washington has not played a complete game yet. It will need one against Stanford.

  • Bottom line: Washington has been playing barely well enough to win. The pattern should continue here.

  • Pick: Washington, 31-28.

    Washington State

  • Kickoff: 7:15 p.m. Saturday.

  • TV, radio: FSN (cable), KJR radio (950 AM).

  • Stars to watch: Washington State – Quarterback Jason Gesser threw just four interceptions in the Cougars’ first six games, then threw three against Arizona State. He still leads the Pac-10 in passing efficiency and TD passes, with 16. Wideout Milton Wynn averages 102 receptions yards a game, second in the Pac-10. Marcus Williams is emerging as a fine secondary receiver. Coug defenders Marcus Trufant, Chris Martin and Mory Banks all are among the conference leaders in interceptions.

    Oregon State – Tailback Ken Simonton leads the conference in rushing. Quarterback Jonathan Smith has 12 TD passes and just three interceptions. Y.J. Houshmandzadeh is dangerous as a receiver and punt returner. Cornerback Terrence Carroll has four interceptions, second in the Pac-10.

  • Breaking down the game: It’s hard to deduce how WSU will stop the Beavers’ offense. The Cougars are last in the conference in total defense and rushing defense, ninth in pass defense. Gesser will make plays, but not enough to offset what the Beavers will do to this defense.

  • Bottom line: WSU’s chance lies in OSU’s possible overconfidence.

  • Pick: Oregon State, 41-21.

  • Oregon at Arizona State: This will be a battle of fabulous defenses. ASU’s Adam Archuleta and Oregon’s Matt Smith are Butkus Award semifinalists. But Oregon, with tailback Maurice Morris and quarterback Joey Harrington, is more settled on offense. ASU needs more stability at both positions. Pick: Oregon, 31-20.

  • Cal at USC: It’ll be interesting to see who coaches these two teams next year. Cal was seven minutes away from beating Washington and appears to be on less of a slide than the Trojans. Still, we can’t believe that a team that has Sultan McCullough at tailback, Carson Palmer at quarterback, and Markus Steele and Zeke Moreno at linebacker will drop to 0-5 in the Pac-10. Pick: USC, 20-17.

  • UCLA at Arizona: Geez, what happened to the Bruins? Is this the same team that beat Michigan and Alabama? Injuries to all but two defensive starters is one reason. The thing going for UCLA here is that Arizona isn’t a high-scoring team. If wideout Freddie Mitchell pulls off a couple of big plays, that may be all UCLA needs. Pick: UCLA, 21-20.

  • Nebraska at Oklahoma: Quarterbacks Tim Heupel and Eric Crouch will make plays on a couple of suspect defenses. The question is whether the Sooners’ defensive front can stand up to the Cornhuskers’ power running game, led by Dan Alexander and Correll Buckhalter. Nebraska put up 38 points on Baylor – in the first quarter. Pick: Nebraska, 41-38.

  • Florida State at North Carolina State: The last time Florida State went to Raleigh, Chris Weinke threw six interceptions and the Seminoles lost. It won’t happen this time. The FSU pass rush, led by Jamal Reynolds, figures to harass freshman quarterback Philip Rivers into more than a few mistakes. Pick: Florida State, 41-12.

  • Florida at Georgia: Any game referred to “The World’s Largest Cocktail Party” gets our respect. The Bulldogs’ fortunes center on the health of quarterback Quincy Carter, who sat out last week against Tennessee with an ankle injury. The Dogs have beaten Florida once in 10 years. Pick: Florida, 38-21.

  • Ohio State at Purdue: The winner here gets the inside track in the Rose Bowl race. The really interesting aspect will be the way the Ohio State front seven pressures Purdue quarterback Drew Brees, who has been terrific in the last four games. The problem with the Buckeyes is in their inconsistent offense, which was dominating against Iowa last week, but fizzled against Minnesota. Pick: Purdue, 31-24.

  • Sleeper pick of the day: Texas A&M 28, Kansas State 24.
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