Sports

Ducks And Beavers And Huskies And Cougars — Oh My!

Getting ready for a huge college football Saturday? Here are some random thoughts as we look to the Civil War and the Apple Cup:

— If Oregon loses to Oregon State, does it drop behind Stanford in the polls and the BCS standings? You can look at it this way: Oregon beat Stanford 52-31. Or you can look at it this way: Stanford’s lone loss was on the road to Oregon, while the Ducks’ lone loss would have been to a lesser foe — on the road against a .500 Oregon State team. Or this way: Oregon lost two months later than Stanford. Or this way: In the Pac-10’s round-robin schedule, the Ducks have outscored their opponents by 178 points; the Cardinal have a 168-point advantage.

Personally, if Oregon loses to Oregon State (I don’t think it will), I probably would vote for Stanford ahead of the Ducks. But I have no idea what the computers would do.

— Probably a more relevant question is: If Oregon or Auburn lose, do the voters move Stanford or Wisconsin ahead of TCU in the polls in an effort to keep the Horned Frogs out of the title game? In the computer ratings, TCU is third, Stanford fourth, and Wisconsin seventh. They all have completed the regular season.

— Speaking of the computers, a look at the Sagarin ratings is always interesting. The rules of the BCS allow only ratings that do not take margin of victory into account, which is asinine. In the version of the Sagarin ratings that are used by the BCS, for example, Ohio State is ranked 15th; in the version that includes margin of victory, the Buckeyes are sixth. I’m thinking Ohio State is a lot closer to being the sixth-best team than the 15th. Auburn, which has won a number of close games, is first in the BCS version of Sagarin’s ratings, but 11th in the margin-of-victory version.

The reason the BCS doesn’t include margin of victory is that it wants to discourage teams from running up the score in order to impress the computers. But that’s going a little overboard. Why not cap the margin at, say, 28 points, so that a 28-point victory is better than a one-point win, but no better than a 60-point win? Seems like a pretty simple solution.

— In the fifth, and last, year of the Pac-10’s nine-game round-robin schedule, Oregon could become the first team to beat all nine conference foes in one season.

— After giving up nearly a bajillion yards last week against Arizona, Oregon fell to 29th in the nation in total defense. But here’s the more important stat: The Ducks are ninth in yards allowed per play. Oregon’s offense plays so quickly (and scores so quickly) that it skews the yards allowed for the defense.

— Isaac and Big Suke on The Fan solicited song dedications from Beavers to Ducks or from Ducks to Beavers. Two of the best were from Beavers fans: “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon; and “Rich Girl” by Hall and Oates (“you can rely on the old man’s money; you can rely on the old man’s money . . .”)

— While Oregon is playing for a spot in the national-title game, Washington is playing for a spot in a bowl, any bowl. The Seattle Times has a look at the legacy of Jake Locker, and we’ll have a column about Locker in Saturday’s paper.

— The Times also has a feature about Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel, and we’ll have the article in Friday’s paper. Despite the team’s struggles the past two years, Tuel actually is a pretty darn good quarterback.

— Of the 120 teams in the FBS (c’mon, it’s Division I-A!), Washington State is 115th in total defense. Washington has improved the past couple weeks and now ranks 85th. The Cougs are 96th in offense, while the Huskies are 83rd.

— Since being pancaked by the gauntlet of Arizona, Stanford, and Oregon, a couple weeks ago, the Huskies have defeated UCLA and Cal. To get to a bowl, they need their first three-game winning streak since the final game of the 2006 season and the first two 2007. Since then, UW is 12-34.

Of course, WSU is 9-36 since the second week of the 2007 season, and three of those wins are over Portland State, Montana State, and Idaho. Then again, two of them are over Washington.

— Washington won last year’s Apple Cup 30-0, the first time they had shut out the Cougars since a 14-0 win in 1964. But going into last year, WSU had won 4 of 5 in the series.