Because of space constraints, a story I wrote for the newspaper concerning idle Penn State's stake in tomorrow's game could not be punished. But here it is, nevertheless, free of charge (Aren't you so happy?):
By Jeff McLane
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
There’s a certain comfort that comes with sitting in the clubhouse while the rest of the field is still toiling away.
Penn State, however, is not the leader in the national championship tournament – in fact, far from it. And when it comes to the granddaddy of a consolation playoff – the Rose Bowl -- the Nittany Lions could face a Rocco Mediate rather than a Tiger Woods-like opponent.
With Penn State’s round of regular-season games complete, there is still ample reason for the Lions to keep an eye tuned to tomorrow’s college football action. For one, they are still technically alive in the national title hunt. And two, should they be eliminated from that chase, the Lions will find out who they will likely play in the Rose Bowl.
No. 8 Penn State needs a laundry list of upsets and freaks happenings to occur to even enter the Bowl Championship Series title game conversation. But there are only two games worth watching.
If No. 4 Florida beats No. 20 Florida State and No. 3 Oklahoma beats No. 12 Oklahoma State there’s virtually no way the Lions can sneak in when the final BCS standings are released on Dec. 7. Both teams would advance to their conference titles – the Gators (definitely) in Southeastern Conference and the Sooners (most likely) in the Big Twelve – and that would most assuredly mean each conference would have a representative in the championship.
Even if No. 1 Alabama loses to Auburn tomorrow, both the Crimson Tide and Gators would enter the SEC championship with one loss. The winner is likely assured a top-two standing. And even if Oklahoma loses to Missouri in its conference title, No. 2 Texas – 11-1 after Thursday’s win over Texas A&M – would likely claim a spot in the final.
If both Florida and Oklahoma lose … well, there’s still hope (If it gets that far, I’ll sort out the mess Sunday). Florida and Florida State meet at 3:30 p.m.; Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at 8 p.m.
More than likely, however, Penn State will be following the 7 p.m. game between Pac-10 rivals, No. 17 Oregon State and No. 23 Oregon – otherwise, known as the Civil War.
If the Beavers win, they gain the automatic bid into the Rose Bowl. It’s a scenario all of Nittany Nation is hoping to avoid considering the Lions throttled Oregon State, 45-14, in Week 2. If they lose, Southern Cal is next in line. But the Trojans would have to beat rival UCLA next Saturday.
If Oregon State and UCLA both fall, Oregon would slide into Pasadena.
The Ducks are three-point underdogs heading Oregon State, but they’ll be facing a Beavers team without its best weapon in running back Jacquizz Rodgers. The 5-foot-7, 193-pound freshman has a shoulder sprain and is considered doubtful.
It’s a shame Oregon State would have to play in the biggest game for the program in some time without Rodgers, who leads the Pac-10 in rushing with 1,233 yards. The Beavers made quite the comeback after opening the season 2-3. Starting with an upset over Southern Cal, they reeled off seven straight victories.
They’ll need one more, however, if they want to spoil Penn State’s 19th hole cocktail after an 11-1 loop through the regular season.