Ryan Whalen and the Cardinal need to win out and for Oregon to lose twice to win the Pac-10.
I should've posted this a couple days ago, and maybe some of you have seen it, but a couple of the writers over at California Golden Blogs crunched the numbers to determine the expected win probabilities for the Pac-10 teams for the remainder of the season. The results are pretty interesting.
Not surprisingly, Oregon is expected to win out. Stanford is, too, which would put the Cardinal in the hunt for a Rose Bowl berth. (As MrPacTen clarified in the comments, being favored to win every remaining game is not the same as being expected to win out. This was probably obvious to most of you, but I botched the explanation. The calculations used in the article give Oregon a 20 percent chance of winning out and Stanford a 14.7 percent chance.)
The simplest way for Stanford to win the Pac-10 and guarantee a Rose Bowl berth is to win its remaining games and have Oregon lose at least twice. The Ducks hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, so one Oregon loss doesn't do any good. That brings us to Saturday's primetime showdown in Los Angeles, where USC hosts the No. 1 Ducks on Homecoming. According to the numbers referenced above, Oregon has a 68.7 percent chance to win. I imagine some Stanford fans are torn as to who to root for.
If you think Oregon is unlikely to lose a second time after an upset by the Trojans, I suppose it's best to root for the Ducks to win Saturday and run the table to earn a spot in the National Championship Game. In that scenario, Stanford would still have an outside shot at the Rose Bowl as the Pac-10 runner-up.
If you think there's a decent chance Oregon could stumble against Arizona and/or Oregon State, there's a good reason to root for USC. As stated before, 2 Oregon losses + no more Stanford losses = Rose Bowl.
If you really, really hate USC, regardless of whether you think there's a chance the Ducks could lose twice, you'll probably be rooting for Oregon.
As for me? Uh, fight on. I guess.
Most of this is moot, of course, if Stanford doesn't take care of business at Washington. There's a 68.7 percent chance that they will, but playing on the road against Jake Locker will be a tough test. Look for the Cardinal Cram Session later tonight.
UPDATE: Earlier this week, fellow Stanford football blog Go Mighty Card provided a good breakdown of the teams Stanford fans should root for throughout the remainder of the season. He's in the "Go (to the National Championship Game) Ducks!" camp. Check it out.
Stanford fans: Who will you be rooting for in Saturday's Oregon-USC game?
Oregon (19 votes)
USC (13 votes)
I don't care (3 votes)
35 total votes