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Tuesday, October 30, 2007 - Page updated at 02:01 AM

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Pac-10 Football | Ducks-Sun Devils get spot on ESPN

Seattle Times staff reporter

Until Monday, the Pacific 10 Conference faced a quirky and embarrassing prospect: Saturday's Oregon-Arizona State game, appealing enough to attract ESPN's "College GameDay" show to Eugene, wasn't going to be on television outside the teams' market areas.

But the Pac-10, ESPN and Fox Sports Net reached an agreement that will allow Saturday's most attractive game nationally to be shown on ESPN at 3:45 p.m. The Sun Devils are 8-0 and ranked fourth in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings, while Oregon is 7-1 and No. 5.

In the Seattle area, that puts the game directly opposite Washington-Stanford, to be shown on FSN at 3:30 p.m.

"It took the cooperation of Fox Sports Net and the Pac-10," ESPN spokesman Mike Humes said last night.

Duane Lindberg, Pac-10 associate commissioner, said he began discussions a couple of weeks ago with the Oregon Sports Network and Fox Sports Net, which were originally to show the game only to the local areas of the two programs.

Then came an inquiry from ESPN, Lindberg said, in which it said it would like to pick up the Oregon-ASU game if both won key games Saturday. Each did, and the arrangement was finalized Monday.

The late "audible" was required because of two elements: the offseason locking-in of potentially attractive games, and the unpredictability of the 2007 season.

Months ago, ABC picked UCLA-Arizona at 12:30 p.m., partly because of the Los Angeles TV market. It's also homecoming for Arizona, and most schools want those times decided early for planning purposes.

The Oregon State-USC game at 5 p.m. was earmarked last spring for ABC or ESPN. It was attractive because of USC's drawing power and as a rematch of OSU's '06 upset.

Fox Sports Net had picked Washington State-California for a 7 p.m. start, and the UW-Stanford game went to local Fox affiliates.

Which was fine, except the Oregon-ASU game was then going to an extremely limited audience in those two states, despite its significance.

Lindberg said conference members like some TV games determined in the offseason, both for budgeting and planning purposes.

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"We're trying to determine in the first of May and June who are going to be the good teams, and you always make mistakes," he said. "Hopefully, we've taken what was a bad situation and made it good."

Humes said the second appearance of "College GameDay" in Eugene this year was independent of the game being shown on ESPN. But referring to the unpredictability of the season, he added, "If somebody had said 'GameDay' would have originated from Kentucky and Oregon twice, I don't know if anybody would have believed them."

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

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