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ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

For Oregon's Bellotti, there's a lot to ponder

November 29, 2008|CHRIS DUFRESNE | Dufresne is a Times staff writer.

Post-it note on coach's refrigerator:

Knock Oregon State out of Rose Bowl.

Win "war."

Get own team to best bowl game possible.

Help settle national title dispute.

Pick up half-gallon of milk.

It's going to be a things-to-do Saturday for Mike Bellotti.

Not only is he coaching Oregon against Oregon State in the 112th reenactment of the Civil War, Bellotti may also have to help resolve another skirmish in the (Big 12 Conference) South.

Bellotti is one of 61 coaches voting in this year's USA Today poll, part of the Bowl Championship Series standings formula that may get pushed to the edge of credulity Sunday if Oklahoma has beaten Oklahoma State and Texas Tech has taken care of Baylor in Waco, Texas.

Texas kicked-started the doomsday scenario by routing Texas A&M in Austin on Thanksgiving night.

Oklahoma and Texas Tech victories today will leave three schools tied at 11-1 in the Big 12 South Division, with the BCS standings then determining which school plays Missouri in next weekend's conference title game.

"I read something where somebody's worried about personalities or friendships," Bellotti said of his role as a voter. "We're pretty honest people . . . we want the best teams to compete."

Yet, Bellotti is torn.

He has been on the BCS short end -- twice. In 2001, Oregon finished No. 2 in both polls but didn't get a sniff at the national title, finishing fourth in the BCS standings behind Miami, Nebraska and Colorado.

In 2005, Oregon finished No. 5 but was aced out of a Fiesta Bowl bid because No. 6 Notre Dame had to be taken under BCS rules fashioned in part by . . . Notre Dame.

Texas is No. 2 in the BCS this week but may get jumped by Oklahoma if the Sooners win at Stillwater, Okla.

Texas beat Oklahoma, 45-35, this season but later lost to Texas Tech in Lubbock, on the game's last play. Last week, Oklahoma crushed Texas Tech, 65-21, at Norman, Okla.

Bellotti said he's inclined to eliminate Texas Tech from the debate and side with the Texas-Oklahoma winner.

"As a coach, I think that's the most overriding factor for me," Bellotti said, "But you know Oklahoma's victory over a very hot Texas Tech team was very, very impressive. Certainly you're going to judge things on the body of work too."

A look at four of today's games and their BCS implications:

No. 19 Oregon (8-3) at No. 17 Oregon State (8-3): An Oregon State victory sends the Beavers to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 44 years in a likely rematch against Penn State. An Oregon State win might also mean two BCS bids for the Pacific 10 Conference, the other going to USC.

Oregon State freshman tailback Jacquizz Rodgers, the Pac-10's leading rusher, is doubtful because of a shoulder sprain. Beavers Coach Mike Riley says, "It shouldn't affect our ability to win."

Bellotti says motivation won't be a problem, with a possible Holiday Bowl bid on the line for his Ducks.

"We have as much to play for as they do," he said. "We're going for the best bowl game possible, we're going for a potential three-way tie in the Pac-10."

No. 3 Oklahoma (10-1) at No. 11 Oklahoma State (9-2): Oklahoma could clinch a berth in the Big 12 title game. If Oklahoma loses, Texas Tech wins the division if the Red Raiders defeat Baylor. If Oklahoma wins and Texas Tech loses, Texas wins the South.

If Oklahoma and Texas Tech win, the BCS standings will be used to determine the winner. Texas holds a slight edge over Oklahoma in the BCS standings, but the Longhorns are likely to get jumped if Oklahoma wins.

Texas could be left out of the Big 12 title game at 11-1.

No. 2 Florida (10-1) at No. 23 Florida State (8-3): Florida fans might be nervous their Gators are No. 4 in the BCS standings behind Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma. But a fifth straight win against rival Florida State and a victory over Alabama in next week's Southeastern Conference title game should give Florida the boost it needs to finish first or second in the BCS, allowing the Gators the chance to play for their second national title in three years.

Auburn (5-6) at No. 1 Alabama (11-0): Alabama needs the win to make next week's game against Florida for a berth in the national-title game. A seventh straight loss to Auburn would probably knock the Crimson Tide out of title contention.

Auburn has been one of this year's biggest disappointments after starting the season ranked No. 10, but a win in the annual Iron Bowl would make the Tigers bowl-eligible while wrecking Alabama's bid for a national title. Isn't that what a good rivalry is all about?

--

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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