The stretch run has arrived, oozing intrigue and guaranteed to end in controversy.

Nine questions for November:

  • Will Cal coach Jeff Tedford keep his job?

    Tedford is a good coach and a good man who has done wondrous things for Cal athletics during his 11 seasons. He also is mired in a multiyear slump that is unfortunate for all involved: The Bears have lost ground relative to Stanford and are 9-15 in conference play since the start of the 2010 season.

    One more loss, and Cal (3-6) would miss the postseason for the second time in three years.

    Fan frustration is peaking at a time when the school needs to sell 50-year rights to season tickets in order to pay for the $321 million renovation of Memorial Stadium.

    The project wouldn't have been possible without the success Tedford created. Now it might be the impetus for his dismissal.

  • Will Stanford reach the Bowl Championship Series for the third consecutive season?

    If Stanford (6-2) runs the table, it would head for the Rose Bowl as the Pac-12 champion.

    If it loses once and Oregon jumps into the national title game, the Cardinal could sneak into the Rose as the league's highest-ranked at-large candidate. It caught a huge break in that regard last week when USC and Oregon State stumbled.

    The at-large path to Pasadena requires that Stanford be among the top 14 teams in the final BCS rankings.

    Its current BCS ranking: No. 14.


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  • Will San Jose State go bowling for the first time since 2006?

    The Spartans are on more fragile ground than their 6-2 record suggests: One of their victories doesn't count toward bowl eligibility, and there is no obvious landing spot even if they finish with seven or eight wins.

    The Western Athletic Conference has only one tie-in, to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. All other eligible teams are free agents, available to any of the 35 bowls.

    With their modest tradition and small fan base, the Spartans are not atop the wish list of bowls in the eastern half of the country.

    But the better their record, the more attractive they become.

  • Will the Pac-12 send two teams to the BCS?

    The coveted second bid, worth millions to the conference, hinges on Oregon jumping into the national championship game and an at-large slot opening in the Rose Bowl.

    But the Pac-12 could encounter a scenario in which its best candidate is the South division winner -- and that team gets eliminated from contention by a loss to Oregon in the league title game.

    Call it the Eat-Your-Own Bowl.

  • Will Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein win the Heisman Trophy?

    Klein, who wasn't on the Heisman radar two months ago, is the front-runner. But big names from powerhouse programs are in pursuit: Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, USC receiver Marqise Lee, Oregon tailback Kenjon Barner and Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron.

    The Heisman is about politics, popularity and rising to the occasion in November. If Klein can stiff-arm that quintet, he will have earned the trophy.

  • Can anyone beat Alabama?

    No.

  • Then who's No. 2?

    The race to face the Crimson Tide in the national championship game is the most intriguing story of the stretch run.

    Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon are the front-runners. They're undefeated and have the benefit of not playing in the Southeastern Conference.

    Nobody wants another all-SEC title game, except the SEC.

  • Is Notre Dame that good?

    Ranked third in the BCS, the Irish are fabulous on the line of scrimmage, solid everywhere else and beloved by the computers.

    A berth in the title game could hinge on the nationally televised season finale at USC on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

    Who would want to watch that game?

  • What about Oregon?

    The Ducks have fared poorly in the computer rankings because of a soft schedule, but they should receive a software upgrade this month with three ranked teams in their path (USC, Stanford and Oregon State).

    It's entirely possible that a one-loss Oregon would jump into the national title game.

    It's also possible that a no-loss Oregon would get boxed out of the title game.

    You never know with that crazy BCS.

    For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com.