Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible USC can represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl Game this season.
The Trojans’ chances seemed to end with losses to Washington and Oregon, but a three-way tie for first place is possible, and the tiebreaker system favors the Trojans.
As we were waiting for Coach Pete Carroll to begin his weekly press session Tuesday in Heritage Hall, Trojan radio announcer Pete Arbogast explained the situation to several writers.
If USC defeats Stanford Saturday, then also defeats UCLA and Arizona, and if Arizona beats Oregon the three leaders will have beaten each other. That would send the tiebreaker to the next level, and USC would be the choice because it’s other loss was to a lowly team – Washington.
It might seem like an odd tiebreaker system, but that’s the one the conference uses. It would help USC that it lost to a lowly team (Washington) than another good one.
When the formal session began nobody asked Carroll about the possibility. It would have been a waste of time because every coach says he’s merely focusing on the upcoming game.
In Carroll’s case, that would be a good idea because this will be Stanford’s first visit to the Coliseum since it pulled off one of the greatest upsets in college football history, a 24-23 victory over USC in 2007. Oddsmakers had made the Trojans a 41-point favorite in that game.
This season Stanford has win six games, which makes it bowl eligible for the first time in eight years.
Stanford has beaten both teams that beat USC – first Washington, then Oregon last Saturday.
“We were fortunate to play both teams the week after they defeated USC,” said Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh.
Stanford running back Toby Gerhard had 223 yards and three touchdowns against Oregon, but Carroll said it was Stanford’s passing that triggered the upset.
“Stanford bombed them,” said Carroll. “The passing started it off and then they controlled the clock with Gerhard’s running.”
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is a redshirt freshman in his first season. He was held out last season because Stanford had a senior, Tavita Pritchard, the guy who beat USC in the 2007 game.
USC has won 12 straight home games since the Stanford shocker.
Asked which loss in recent seasons hurts the most, that Stanford game, a defeat at Oregon when Mark Sanchez was the USC quarterback, and the two this season, Carroll replied:
“They’re all horrible.”