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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Us, root for USC?

We have a hard and fast rule: We root for whoever's playing Southern Cal. Even our disdain for the Ducks doesn't allow to us to root for the Trojans when those two teams meet. But this weekend we're being urged by our friend, colleague, and fellow USC-despiser Tung Yin to pull for Southern Cal (a 5.5-point underdog) against Notre Dame.

Now, we're no fan of Notre Dame, but we're not a hard-core foe, either. And so for us to be cheering on Southern Cal would require an extraordinary showing of good cause.

Here's how Tung explains it: If Southern Cal loses, they'll surely fire their coach, and he's so ineffective that his continued tenure would actually hurt the Trojans in the long run. So we want him to stay, and if USC beats the No. 1-ranked Fighting Irish, he might.

Besides, USC is going to finish the regular season either 8-4 or 7-5, and there isn't much meaningful difference between those two records. In addition, if USC beats Notre Dame, the Cardinal win over the Trojans will look better in the computer rankings. (But then again, so will the Ducks' win over S.C.)

These arguments bring us at least to neutral, but can we really cheer for Tommy Trojan and the boys? We've got until Saturday night to figure it out.

Meanwhile, there's drama for Stanford, and part of it depends on what happens in the Oregon "civil war" game on Saturday. It's a little complicated at this point, but here's how we think it goes: If the Ducks beat the Beavers in Corvallis on Saturday, Stanford will have to beat UCLA two weeks in a row -- first in L.A. Saturday and then in the conference title game, which would be held in Palo Alto -- to make it to the Rose Bowl.

If the Beavers win, Stanford can lose to UCLA down south this week but will have to beat the Bruins in L.A. next week to make it to the Rose Bowl. If Oregon wins and Stanford loses this weekend, the Ducks will play UCLA for the conference title and the Rose Bowl bid, next week in Eugene, and Stanford is headed for something like the Tostitos Bowl.

To recap:

Beavers win, Stanford wins: UCLA at Stanford for conference title
Ducks win, Stanford wins: UCLA at Stanford for conference title
Beavers win, UCLA wins: Stanford at UCLA for conference title
Ducks win, UCLA wins: UCLA at Ducks for conference title

Whew! Correct us if we got any of that wrong. Stanford at UCLA is at 3:30 our time Saturday; Stanford is a mere 2-point favorite. Ducks at Beavers is at noon; U of O is favored by 9.5 points. The conference title game will be in the evening, a week from tomorrow.

If you were UCLA, in the title game would you rather play the Ducks in Eugene, or Stanford in Palo Alto? If the answer is Stanford, and if the Ducks win the first game this Saturday, might UCLA be tempted to throw the second game?

Comments (12)

It's never acceptable to root for USC. There are no exceptions to that rule.

USC: Up S*** Creek

Here's another good reason why you should root against Notre Dame: they got gifted a win by the refs in OT over Stanford. Stanford might have had a shot at the National Championship had it not been for that. USC, as loathsome as they may be, are the Pac-12's means of revenge, and a win by them will help mitigate the potential for some sort of ND-SEC snoozefest for the national championship. And I concur with your colleague that a Lane Kiffin-coached USC is good for the whole conference, because he's a colossal goon. Canzano said it best in the O a couple weeks ago.


I'll admit I'm a Ducks fan (and a WSU Cougars fan), so I abhor USC, too--it's hard for me to pull for them under any circumstance, but this is one of those situations. I'll also add that I don't have any real animosity toward Stanford. Coach Shaw is a class act, and they simply outplayed the Ducks in a close game last Saturday, so congratulations to the Cardinal.

Unlikely UCLA would outright throw the game. On the other hand, they might be tempted to rest any starters with the smallest of nagging injuries. If I was their coach, I'd save my A game plan for the championship, and in losing, wouldn't have to come up with another one.

When I was growing up in the Chicago area, our hard and fast rule, on account of the rabidity and self-righteousness of its fans, was to root against whoever opposed Notre Dame. Notre Dame has fallen on mostly hard times since, but the latent tendencies of its fan base are just below the surface, waiting to reemerge. Go Trojans -- win this meaningless (for you) game.

I mean root for whoever opposed Notre Dame.

So Ducks win/UCLA wins/USC wins + Georgia wins SEC champ game over bama = Ducks go to Natty!
My horoscope advised me not to wager on any sporting contest, so I won't go for this pac12 trifecta.

USC wins, Ducks lose - SEC vs SEC championship again? That alone should be reason enough to cheer on the Irish.

The Hunchbacks of Notre Dame play just like a stereotypical SEC team. Statistically speaking, they're most similar to Florida. Plenty of defense, hideous offense, and a tendency to barely squeak it out, at the last minute, against mid-majors and teams with losing records. They may not be part of the conference or geographic region, but they'll produce a snoozer of an NCG as well as (if not worse than) any potential SEC vs. SEC matchup.

With ND losing, the only possible scenario for another SEC vs. SEC would entail Oregon State, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida winning this weekend. As Alabama and Georgia have to play one another in the SEC championship, the winner would end up playing Florida.

I'll root for SC this once, just because of the following two things:

A. I don't want to see Notre Dame back into a National Championship game playing a weak schedule that includes service academies and an incredibly soft Big Ten (now 14)

B. If the Domers go to a National Championship game against Alabama, they're handing Alabama another trophy, and then we all have to suffer through all the commentary about how the SEC is just playing at a higher level than everyone else, etc. ad nauseum. We need to have a national championship game that doesn't include Alabama (or better yet, doesn't include the SEC) for once in a long time.

College Football is better when the sports media isn't falling all over themselves for one particular conference's affection. With the BCS (and future playoff system) being firmly affected by human perception, can we please help to put it on a more level playing field? Look no further than the latest BCS top ten to see how ridiculous the SEC bias is.

Go, Beavers.

That is my single interest in this complex of calculations.

If Oregon wins tomorrow, Florida State beats Florida, and USC wins over Notre Dame, guess what? It wouldn't matter if Stanford wins or loses. Georgia will have to play in the SEC title game, which would involve Bama, so one would lose. Stanford could win the pac12 title, and still see Oregon in the national title game. Oregon would end up #2 at the very end. Could you imagine? Best case scenario for Oregon would be winning tomorrow, FSU winning, USC winning and UCLA winning. That would put them in the pac12 and the title game.

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