Pac-10 fans have been justifiably complaining about college football's west coast bias for decades. In the BCS era, USC has kept the conference’s reputation respectable but it might be the Oregon Ducks who put the Pac-10 in the forefront with a win over the SEC Champion Auburn Tigers in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.
Disrupting the SEC's four-year title streak would be the biggest win in Pac-10 history. With eastward expansion on the way, it would create a precedent for non-SEC teams that they need to schedule Pac-10 opponents in order to establish themselves.
A win for Oregon would also help Pac-10 schools recruit in other parts of the country. Quietly the conference has been able to snatch premier players Andrew Luck, LaMichael James, Darron Thomas, James and Jacquizz Rodgers and Nick Foles from the state of Texas—and Big XII country looks ripe for picking as teams continue to realign.
With more prime time TV games and state-of-the-art jersey combos coming from an Oregon win, prospects might be staying up a little later to catch Pac-10 action. Additionally, Pac-10 schools can offer prospects from the Southwest and Midwest a much different lifestyle than they're used to.
Getting back to the game, can we really say, without doubt, that a win over Auburn be the biggest in conference history?
In 2004, the BCS showcased LSU against Oklahoma, when USC seemed to be the better suited team to face the Tigers. The Trojans handled No. 4 Michigan 28-14 in the 2004 Rose Bowl while Oklahoma was defeated 21-14.
USC went undefeated the next year and as luck would have it faced Oklahoma the in the 2005 BCS Championship. The Trojans rolled the Sooners 44-19, suggesting they had been the best college football team for the past two years.
Sanctions have tarnished USC's BCS title and failing to beat Texas the following year prevented the Pac-10 from reigning supreme over the college football landscape.
Other big games in relevant Pac-10 history come from the Washington Huskies.
The Huskies went undefeated in 1991 and beat Michigan in the 1992 Rose Bowl but they shared the National Championship with an undefeated Miami team.
The "Whammy in Miami" in 1994 gave the Huskies redemption for their shared title and shook the college football world but an early season win will never have the same value as the BCS National Championship.
There have been many pivotal wins for establishing respect in Pac-10 history, but none will go further for the conference than a win in Glendale, AZ on January 10.
If you're a Pac-10 supporter, it may hurt you to say it, but "Go Ducks."
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