The Pac-10’s bowl hopes lie with Brehaut. Richard Brehaut.
Photo by Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire

What’s worse than losing to Stanford, USC and (maybe) Oregon?

Losing to Washington State and then losing to Stanford, USC and Oregon.

As bad as the Arizona Wildcats feel the Oregon State Beavers feel worse. The UA will still be playing in a bowl game while OSU’s postseason chances are on life support following losses to lowly Washington and UCLA even before the debacle against Wazzu.

See? There are still positives to be found in the Wildcat Universe. You just have to look really hard.

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Did Oregon State destroy the Pac-10 bowl bubble? Not yet. The Pac can still get five teams into bowls. Here’s how:

ALREADY IN:
Oregon (10-0)
Stanford (9-1)
Arizona (7-3)

BUBBLE IN:
Cal (5-5)

BUBBLE OUT:
UCLA (4-5)
OSU (4-5)
Washington (3-6)

NOT ELIGIBLE:
ASU (3-6*)
WSU (2-9)
USC (banished)

(*ASU’s second FCS win not included.)

The new best-case scenario is…

Cal – loses to Stanford, beats Washington = 6-6
UCLA – beats Washington and ASU, loses to USC = 6-6
OSU – loses to USC, Stanford and Oregon, doesn’t get anybody seriously injured = 4-8
Washington – loses to UCLA and Cal, beats WSU = 4-8
ASU – loses to UCLA and Arizona = 4-8

Unfortunately, I think Arizona State is going to beat UCLA in Tempe the day after Thanksgiving which would have the Sun Devils coming to Tucson with an FCS-aided 5-6 record. ASU would still have the hope that there won’t be enough eligible teams to fill the 35 bowls so they can get a pity invite.

If the Devils do get to 6-6 it would mean the Alamo Bowl might be stuck with a 7-5 Arizona team on a four-game losing streak. I don’t think that’s what the folks in San Antonio had in mind when they signed on to take the #2 pick from the Pac-10.

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Are you already lamenting the Cats’ bye week? TWIT-Pac Lite is here to help!

Thu. Nov. 18 – 6 p.m. Arizona/Mountain Time, ESPN/ESPN3.com

UCLA (4-5 / 2-4) at Washington (3-6 / 2-4)
This is actually the most intriguing Pac-10 game of the week. The winner will have honest-to-goodness bowl aspirations for another week. What more can you ask for when two 7th-place teams square off on national TV?

Who do Wildcat fans want to win?
UCLA. The Bruins winning twice is more likely than the Huskies winning thrice. Plus Cat fans want the Bruins to get good at winning November road games.

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Unless something crazy happens this will be the last installment of the Survivor Rankings:

1. Oregon
2. Stanford
X. ARIZONA
X. Oregon State
X. Cal
X. Washington
X. Arizona State
X. UCLA
X. Washington State
X. USC

It’s very simple: If Stanford wins their final two games and Oregon loses their final two games the Cardinal win the championship. Any other result and the Ducks clinch their second straight Pac-10 title.

Borrrring. But that’s what happens when the two great teams play early in the year and the rest of the teams are far from great. At least we still have BCS drama, and who doesn’t love BCS drama?

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On to the additional thoughts from the USC game.

(Don’t stop reading now! There’s basketball talk below!)

We’re going to borrow a rule from my 3rd grade teacher and declare that every time you say something negative you have to follow it up with something positive. Challenge accepted.

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Negative:
USC converted its first four red zone opportunities into 24 points. The Wildcats’ first four red zone trips included a missed field goal and a fumble. What was Arizona’s best option for scoring inside the 20 this year? He caught three touchdown passes from Tom Brady Sunday night. UA fans will always cheer for GRONK! in the NFL but every time he crosses the goal line a Wildcat will think, “Why couldn’t he have played with Nick Foles? Not even one time?!?”

Positive:
Terrence Miller locked up the team’s 2010 Most Improved award in just one week. After looking like his hands were allergic to leather against Stanford he doubled his season totals with seven catches for 116 yards against USC. Can the 6-4 sophomore be the down-the-middle threat the Cats have so desperately needed? A bye week is a great opportunity to get a young guy ready to take on an increased role and find out.

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Negative:
It’s true the offense was down three starters due to injury (four if you count guard Vaughn Dotsy who hasn’t played all year). But the second-line receivers did just fine, and injuries don’t make you fumble in the red zone, or fail to read a corner blitz, or miss a short field goal.

Positive:
The Arizona offense converted an impressive 11-of-16 third downs (69%) but it was even more incredible than that. The Cats attempted to pass 15 times on third down and Nick Foles completed 14 of them. Foles was 14-of-15 for 166 yards, 10 first downs and two touchdowns on third down alone.

Usually you try to avoid third down. The Wildcats should have just taken a knee on first and second down.

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Negative:
It was the first loss for the white helmets/red pants combo after a 4-0 start.

Positive:
The White-Red-White and White-Red-Blue combos are still unblemished and available for the ASU game.

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Negative:
Arizona’s first punt was with three minutes left in the 3rd quarter yet the team only had 14 points. How do you pull that off? 1) Fail in the red zone. 2) Give up drives lasting 8:57 and 6:48. 3) Only have one full possession in the 2nd quarter.

Positive:
Arizona’s first punt was with three minutes left in the 3rd quarter!

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Negative:
Those long USC drives were a new way for the Wildcat defense to get beat. The Trojans were the first team to dominate the UA on the ground from the opening kickoff. Even Stanford’s first two touchdown drives were the result of 148 passing yards compared to just 19 via the rush.

Positive:
The secondary didn’t get beat deep!

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Negative:
Things Nobody Else Does

Offsides on offense. Not a false start, offsides. Wide receiver David Douglas didn’t move before the snap, he just stood in the wrong place. Strangest loss of five yards I’ve seen in a while.

Positive:
Douglas’ two touchdowns increased his career total by 50%. Thanks, roomie!

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Negative:
Alex Zendejas attempted five kicks including one that got called back due to a penalty. Three of the five were deflected.

Positive:
Zendejas’ first punt of the year was nicely angled out of bounds at the 6.

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Negative:
Zendejas’ second punt of the year only went 30 yards.

Positive:
It wasn’t blocked!

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Negative:
Seeing Steve McLaughlin getting his jersey retired at halftime reminded Wildcat fans how rare it is to witness such poor punting and kicking at Arizona.

Positive:
The Cactus Comet was there! Anybody who can run for 3,000 yards without a facemask is a hero in my book.

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Negative:
After 27 sacks in their first eight games the UA defense was shut out for the second straight week.

Positive:
You got me on this one. The other team’s quarterback had a very pleasant evening?

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Negative:
Losing two straight games drops Arizona to a mediocre 4-3 in conference play.

Positive:
There are still three more opportunities to watch the Cats play in 2010 and momentum can shift in a hurry in college football.

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Negative:
The first of those three games is at #1 Oregon.

Positive:
It’s time for that basketball talk!

You read the in-game commentary. You saw the highlights. It’s hard to think of a better start to a season than scoring 90 points and holding a team scoreless for an 11-minute stretch.

My main question going into the year was: Where are the Cats going to go for scoring when Derrick Williams is off the court (or just off)?

One game is one game but it was still encouraging to see the all-around play of Solomon Hill (10 points and 8 rebounds, including 3 on the offensive end), and the outside shooting of Brendon Lavender and freshman Jordin Mayes (combined 6-of-9 on threes) off the bench.

I fully expect the team defense to be better this year. The players have a full year of experience with Sean Miller’s system and expectations, and the team has enough athletes to keep guys fresh. But even if you have a 17-man rotation it doesn’t do you any good if you can’t put the ball in the bucket.

The season opener was certainly a positive.

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(Negative: This post is done. Positive: Learn about the next one on Facebook and Twitter!)