Over the past 15 years ,the Oregon Ducks have become one of the most successful programs in college football. Their success can be judged largely on their BCS appearances.
After Oregon lost the highly anticipated matchup with the Stanford Cardinal in early November, its national title hopes were a thing of the past. Despite the less, an at-large bid to either the Orange Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl was likely after beating Utah to move to 9-1 on the year.
When the Ducks left Tucson after a devastating 42-16 loss to the Arizona Wildcats, their dreams of reaching another BCS game might have ended as abruptly as their national title hopes did against Stanford.
With two losses through their first 11 games, they are likely on the outside looking in at the BCS this season. With a win over Oregon State on Friday, the Ducks would reach double-digit wins for a sixth year in a row, giving them an outside shot at one of the final at-large bids.
They might have an outside chance, but it would require a lot of downward movement from the teams above them in the polls. The Ducks would likely need losses by No. 5 Missouri, No. 6 Clemson, No. 7 Oklahoma State, No. 9 Stanford, No. 11 Michigan State and No. 12 Arizona State in order to earn a bid to a fifth consecutive BCS bowl.
Missouri plays hosts to No. 21 Texas A&M on Saturday night knowing a win would give them the SEC East title. That would match them up with the winner of the game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Auburn on Saturday.
Before Stanford and Arizona State face off in the Pac-12 Championship Game, the Cardinal host No. 25 Notre Dame, while the Sun Devils take on Arizona.
Clemson must travel to face No. 10 South Carolina, whom they have lost to four consecutive times. The loser is likely out of contention for a BCS bid. Oklahoma State will have to defeat their in-state rival when the Oklahoma Sooners visit Stillwater next Saturday.
Assuming Ohio State beats Michigan, the Ducks will need the Buckeyes to beat Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game to push the Spartans out of contention.
Fresno State's loss to San Jose State on Friday eliminates them from the discussion, and Northern Illinois has their doubters after being blown out by Florida State in last season's Orange Bowl.
If most of those losses happen in the next two weeks, the Ducks could sneak in the back door for another BCS bid. They have the reputation, the success and the national appeal to make them an attractive option for the BCS committee.
With five BCS appearances since its inception in 1998, the Ducks have become a regular in January bowl games. Oregon is tied with Alabama, LSU, Michigan and Wisconsin for seventh on the list of programs with the most BCS appearances.
Only Ohio State, Florida, Oklahoma, USC, Virginia Tech and Florida State have appeared in more BCS bowls.
It would take a lot for the Ducks to earn a bid in the final year of the BCS, but it happens all the time in college football. The Ducks were taken down twice in recent weeks, and almost every team ahead of them in the rankings has a tough game ahead.
So while it is far from a sure thing, hold on tight for a wild last couple of weeks because the Ducks might remain in the BCS discussion after all.
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