Everyone’s assuming that Oregon State aren’t good enough to win the Civil War and take down Oregon in what should be one of the biggest games in this rivalry’s history due to the fact that both teams are in the top 11 and both have simultaneous high hopes for the first time since 2000, when they came into game ranked #5 and #8.
Oregon are thinking national title game. Their 62-51 win over USC only made their bid even stronger, pushing them up a spot in the BCS standings. What’s left to play? California (3-7), Stanford (#14) and Oregon State (#11). Good for their strength of schedule and computer scores, after already holding the number 2 spot in the human polls. Unlike the computers, human polls don’t drop teams unless they lose.
Now that they’re past what was considered to be their toughest test, no one seems to consider the fact that Oregon might lose. The only question seems to be whether or not they might get shafted by the BCS if Notre Dame and Kansas State, not to mention the consensus number one team, Alabama, keep on winning. For now, Oregon are either 5th, 4th or 7th on the computers.
But what about Oregon State, who are 7-1, with wins over two ranked teams (UCLA and Wisconsin) and still Stanford, California, Oregon and Nicholls State to play against? The assumption is that the Beavers lose to the Ducks, despite playing at home. What then? Can a 9-2 Oregon State still make the Rose Bowl? If they beat Stanford and UCLA or USC lose to Oregon (again, probably Oregon) in the Pac-12 Championship game, they have a shot.
And here comes the Nicholls State problem. Playing against a team they were supposed to play when the season began only to postpone the game due to Hurricane Isaac isn’t going to help their standings among human voters or the computers. The Colonels are a 1-7 FCS Team.
But… there’s a way out. Oregon State can walk away from that game, paying a $500,000 “fine” for opting out of the contract, while also reimbursing ticket buyers. The potential payout from playing in a BCS bowl is $17,000,000. The Beavers are currently between 6th and 10th on the Computer polls. Playing Stanford and beating California, even before Oregon, will really solidify their Rose Bowl (or any BCS Bowl for that matter) bid as long as they are 9-1 before meeting the Ducks.
Facing Nicholls State is a no-win situation. Lose, shockingly and a remote possibility, and the Beavers nosedive down the rankings, forgetting this team were 3-9 last season. A win? No one notices. Not playing them means Oregon State didn’t have any cupcakes on their schedule, and have a very good shot of playing in a BCS Bowl, specifically the Rose Bowl, even if they finish the season just at 9-2.
Just a reminder – Oregon State haven’t been to a BCS Bowl since 2000 season, making the Fiesta Bowl and beating Notre Dame. They haven’t been to the Rose Bowl since 1965.