SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Arizona and Stanford entered the season with goals of ending the longest bowl droughts in the Pac-10.
Both teams are in position to do that with wins this week, although the task looks considerably easier for the Wildcats than the Cardinal.
Arizona (5-3) needs a win Saturday over Washington State, a team that has allowed 172 consecutive points, to be eligible to go to a bowl for the first time since then-coach Dick Tomey led them to the Holiday Bowl in 1998.
``Our kids certainly understand where we're at. They can count,'' coach Mike Stoops said. ``They know what you need to do to get to bowl games so we don't even acknowledge it. Our kids are focused in on having a great season. I don't think they're satisfied with getting a certain amount of wins ... They're out to change the perception of Arizona football. That's what's really important to them.''
running, it seems to be a near certainty that six wins will be enough for a Pac-10 team to make a bowl this season.
Stanford's drought doesn't extend as far, having last gone to a bowl in Tyrone Willingham's final season as coach in 2001. The Cardinal came close with five wins in 2005 before hitting rock-bottom in a 1-10 season the following year.
Coach Jim Harbaugh led the team to four wins last year and now has the Cardinal one win away from a bowl. But the competition in the final three games is stiff, with a road game at Oregon this week followed by a home game against No. 7 Southern California and a visit to California for the Big Game. The Cardinal will likely be the underdogs in all three games.
``That's the way we like it,'' safety Bo McNally said. ``It's kind of nice going in feeling like you're being underestimated a little bit. ... We have a chance to do something really great for Stanford football.''
CONTROLLING DESTINY: While USC is widely considered to be the best team in the Pac-10, Oregon State and California are the only two teams that control their own destiny to reach the Rose Bowl.
get there, the Beavers must defeat UCLA and Arizona on the road and Cal and Oregon at home.
``There's talk about it, mostly just questions I get through the media,'' coach Mike Riley said. ``It's a very, very jumbled up conference race. The Beavers' motto is: 'one game at a time.' I don't know if it was national cliche day or national cliche week, but that's my national cliche of the day is, 'one game at a time.'''
Cal coach Jeff Tedford made the same point in discussing the Golden Bears' chances. Cal plays at USC this weekend and travels to Oregon State next week. By winning both games, Cal would be in position to go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1958 season.
``We don't really talk about controlling our own destiny,'' Tedford said. ``The destiny is this week and that's our focus.''
PLAYOFFS PROPONENT: With Southern California struggling to move up in the BCS rankings in part because of a down year in the Pac-10, Trojans coach Pete Carroll renewed his call for a college football playoff.
``I agree with Senator Obama. I'll vote for a playoff,'' Carroll said, referring to Barack Obama's answer in an ESPN interview Monday night that the first thing he'd change in sports if he could was replacing the BCS with an eight-team playoff system.
``I've always been for the playoff thing. Just being a competitor, I don't see any other way it should be done.''
s dropped from fifth to seventh in the BCS standings following a 56-0 victory over Washington.
Carroll has been part of some BCS debates in the past. USC was left out of the title game despite being ranked No. 1 in the polls in 2003 and was one of three undefeated teams from major conferences the following season.
USC won a share of the title in 2003 and won it all the following year after beating Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. Auburn was the undefeated team left out in 2004 and went on to defeat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.
While the BCS's stated goal is to pit the top two teams in the country in a championship game, Carroll doesn't quite understand the definitions.
``I don't know if it's the best team at the end of the season that would win out if you had a playoff or if it's just the team that had the season you liked the most because of who they played and who they beat,'' Carroll said. ``I think there's a difference there.''
BOTTOM DWELLARS: A game against winless Washington would figure to be the tonic to get Arizona State back on the winning track.
But the way the past two months have gone for the Sun Devils, they can't take anything for granted. Arizona State has not won since defeating Stanford 41-17 on September 6.
streak. We're more concerned with ourselves than anybody we're playing. We have to find a way to win.''
The Sun Devils (2-6) have lost six straight games after being ranked No. 15 in the preseason, but still have hopes for a bowl game because three of their final four games are against the Huskies (0-8), Washington State (1-8) and UCLA (3-5).
``We happen to be in that category,'' Erickson said. ``When you're in that bottom-third category and you're playing a guy in the same category as you, you can't say very much.''
The finale is at Arizona (5-3).

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