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Bloom may be off the rematch

Dufresne is a Times staff writer.

Oregon State can clinch its first Rose Bowl berth in 44 years with a win against Oregon on Saturday in Corvallis -- everyone knows that.

But can Oregon State still get to the Rose Bowl with a loss?

The answer, drum roll please, is . . . “yes,” and we’ll explain the tiebreaking procedures after explaining how ticked off the Rose Bowl would be having to stage a rematch game between Oregon State and Penn State.

Penn State already defeated Oregon State once this year, in September, in State College, Pa., by the score of 45-14.

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Bowls generally deplore repeats.

Or would the Rose Bowl be upset?

“We don’t root for any particular university,” Rose Bowl CEO Mitch Dorger said Tuesday. “We have a wonderful arrangement with the Pac-10 and Big Ten to take their champions. We’re delighted with whoever comes to us.”

And you were expecting Dorger to say . . . what?

There are some interesting issues at play here, though, and whether Oregon State-Penn State II would be awful or awesome depends on your vantage point:

* Penn State: The Nittany Lions would hate this. You never, ever want to have to beat a team twice in the same season. No good can come of it. In 1975, Ohio State clobbered UCLA in the regular season, returned on Jan. 1 as the nation’s top-ranked team, only to be shocked by UCLA in the Rose Bowl.

Remember John Sciarra to Wally Henry?

People back East are calling Rose Bowl headquarters to see if Oregon State can somehow be kept out of Pasadena, not understanding a contractual arrangement that has been in place since 1947.

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* Oregon State: The Beavers would love this. Not only would the school dig the chance to get out of Corvallis in late December, get some sun on their pale faces and go on the map-of-the-stars tour, Oregon State would get a chance to avenge an ugly defeat.

* ABC: The Rose Bowl always draws high ratings because of its time slot and captive-audience access to people huddled around televisions wishing they were in Pasadena instead of Peoria.

But let’s get serious. USC vs. Penn State, a matchup of potential top-five schools, is worth at least an extra ratings point to the network.

* USC: After appearing (yawn) in four of the last (yawn) five games, the Rose Bowl is probably third (at least) on this year’s priority list behind the Bowl Championship Series title game in South Florida on Jan. 8 and a possible Fiesta Bowl pairing against Texas, Oklahoma or Texas Tech.

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USC, as a football stalwart, proves nothing by defeating the Big Ten champion, which has been embarrassed in the last two title games by the Southeastern Conference champion.

And USC players might as well wear black hats and mustaches in trying to beat down a team coached by an 82-year-old man coming off hip replacement surgery.

* The Pacific 10 Conference: Um, put Commissioner Tom Hansen down for Oregon State. That would give the league two teams in the BCS, an extra $4.5 million to spread from Seattle to Tucson, and the chance for the Pac-10 to shed its image of being USC and the Nine Dwarfs.

* City of Pasadena: Are you kidding? Left with the economic-impact choice of Oregon State or USC, let’s hear it for the “The Beaverly Hillbillies.”

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“It’s not that far,” Pasadena Police Lt. George Wiley, in charge of event planning at the Rose Bowl, said of Oregon State’s proximity to the Southland, “and it’s all downhill.”

USC fans bring nothing to the Lawry’s beef table. They don’t rent hotel rooms, eat mounds of mashed potatoes, plunk down credit cards at the Hollywood Wax Museum or buy key rings, nutty knickknacks, pennants, peanuts or souvenirs.

* The Rose Bowl: It would depend on whom you asked and what time of day it is.

Oregon State vs. Penn State can be seen as an organizer’s nightmare scenario, but there’s a chance this rematch could work out in the end, with a little extra money to put in the piggy bank.

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Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn called either pairing “a bit of a no-lose.”

USC vs. Penn State would feature the first teams to play a Tournament of Roses game in the stadium, in 1923.

“But there’s also something to be said for a team that hasn’t been here in 44 years,” Dunn said of Oregon State.

People who don’t want to see Oregon State anywhere near Brookside Golf Course on Jan. 1 probably were heartened to hear Beavers star tailback, Jacquizz Rodgers, is said to be “very doubtful” for Saturday’s “Civil War” game against Oregon because of a sprained left shoulder.

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Remember, though, Oregon State lost Rodgers early against Arizona last weekend and still prevailed against the Wildcats.

Also, even a loss to Oregon doesn’t eliminate Oregon State from Rose Bowl contention.

If the Beavers lose and UCLA upsets USC on Dec. 6 -- we could give you 9 to 13 reasons why that could happen -- the conference race will end in a three-way tie involving Oregon State, Oregon and USC.

In that case, Oregon State goes to the Rose Bowl.

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“We can find no possible scenario where it comes out differently,” Pac-10 spokesman Jim Muldoon said.

The first tiebreaker in a three-way debate, whether one team has defeated the other two, does not apply. Oregon State beat USC but would have lost to Oregon; USC beat Oregon.

The second tiebreaker would compare the tied teams’ records to the next-highest team in the standings. That team right now is California. Cal defeated Oregon and lost to both Oregon State and USC.

That knocks Oregon out and it then goes to the head-to-head between Oregon State and USC.

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The tricky part comes if Cal loses its season-ending game against Washington -- yeah, right -- and ends up tied for fourth place at 5-4 with other teams.

It wasn’t easy getting to the bottom of the conference’s tiebreaking procedures.

Conference officials spent hours sorting through scenarios.

“It pretty much ruined my Sunday,” Muldoon said.

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Don’t be surprised if you hear that quote again from Penn State fans on Dec. 7, a Sunday, if the final bowl lineup sends Oregon State our way.

Times staff writer Sam Farmer contributed to this report.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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