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Bowl picture still complex for UO, OSU

As topsy-turvy as Oregon's season and the Pacific-10 Conference have been, Oregon coach Mike Bellotti has not been doing 'mental gymnastics' over the bowl scenarios.

'I can't worry about what other people do,' he says. 'It won't be decided until after Dec. 6 anyway.'

After Oregon State plays at USC on Dec. 6 in the final Pac-10 game, the league's designated bowls will invite their combatants. This weekend's games Ñ UCLA at USC, Washington State at Washington, California at Stanford and Oregon State at Oregon Ð will help solidify bowl spots.

But too many contingencies remain, and not one team can lay claim to any of the Pac-10's definite bowls: the Holiday, Sun, Insight, Las Vegas and Silicon Valley Classic.

USC could go to the Sugar Bowl (the Bowl Championship Series title game) by beating UCLA and OSU Ñ if the Trojans finish No. 2 in the BCS standings. If not, the Trojans probably would go to the Rose Bowl.

If USC plays for the national title, Washington State could be invited to the Rose Bowl, which, despite its BCS membership, seemingly wants the best Pac-10 team available.

If the Pac-10's top two go to BCS games, the Holiday Bowl can invite any team, but it seems likely that the Oregon-Oregon State winner would be headed there.

Either the Beavers or Ducks will have five Pac-10 wins after Saturday; if OSU wins the Civil War, it could get its sixth vs. USC. California and UCLA are the only other schools with a shot at five wins. Oregon has beaten UCLA, and both the Beavers and Ducks have beaten Cal.

Oregon officials say they would not steer away from any bowl, but OSU probably would try to play in the Sun or Las Vegas instead of the Insight, where the Beavers went last year.

Oregon State coach Mike Riley shook hands with Sun Bowl officials after Saturday's win over Stanford, and the delegation from El Paso, Texas, expressed its admiration of the Beavers.

Another possibility: The Pac-10 might not be able to fill its bowl commitments. Stanford could knock Cal from bowl eligibility, and Notre Dame then could knock Stanford out. If WSU beats Washington, the Huskies will stay home. In that scenario, Stanford, Cal and Washington all would have losing records.

If that happens, and the BCS takes WSU and USC, only three other Pac-10 teams would be bowl-eligible: OSU, Oregon and UCLA. And the Bruins would barely get in at 6-6.

Oh, what a year in the Pac-10.

ÑÊJason Vondersmith