The Pacific-12 Conference is known for some exciting football, and Week 4 lived up to that billing. Even though there were only four games played, three of them were close games—and two of them went down to the wire.
That’s the Conference of Champions for you.
The league also has four ranked teams now, including No. 24 California. This will help the Pac-12 as it tries to secure a spot for its champion in the College Football Playoff, the notoriously misguided attempt by football power brokers to produce a “legitimate” champion which most often fails to do so. Just like the Bowl Championship Series, there seems to be an anti-West bias in this “selection” process that always disregards the Pac-12.
We call it envy.
Either way, here’s a quick look at what happened last week, and just a note that the Water Cooler feature will be moving to Sunday starting in October. By the way, with a perfect 4-0 prediction mark last week, we are now 30-8 this year in picking winners. Insert your own joke here.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
The Cardinal fans are doing a happy dance after Stanford came back from a 17-point deficit to force overtime and win the game against the Oregon Ducks on the road. Call it a miracle, but those often are needed to get a team to the promised land. If Stanford is now living on borrowed time, the Cardinal better make the most of it. The team is ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll, which is a little insulting considering few teams above them—if any—have gone on the road and beaten a ranked team this year. But that’s what we meant about “bias” above.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
Meanwhile, the Ducks fans still don’t know what hit them. Oregon was about to score a touchdown to go up 31-7, and then this happened: TD called back on penalty, fumble, fumble, Stanford return for TD. Suddenly, it was 24-14, and the Cardinal had new life. Still, with less than a minute to go, all the Ducks had to do was hold on to the ball to secure a 31-28 victory. Instead, Oregon fumbled, and Stanford tied the game at the end of regulation with a field goal. All their hopes crushed, the Ducks crumbled in OT and lost a game they never should have. It will be interesting to see how Oregon recovers from this serious gut punch.
Big performers from Week 4
Despite starting the season 0-2, somehow the Arizona Wildcats are in first place among Pac-12 South teams now with a 1-0 conference record. They can thank running back J.J. Taylor, who had a big game in the 35-14 win over Oregon State. He ran for 284 yards against the Beavers and scored two TDs as well.
On the other side of the ball, Washington Huskies linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven made 20 tackles against the Arizona State Sun Devils in a 27-20 victory. On top of that, the senior forced two fumbles and recovered one of them. He was all over the field for the No. 11 team in the nation.
Unlucky Team of the Week
We don’t think Oregon was unlucky; we think they were just … inept. Therefore, this award goes to the Washington State Cougars. Despite out-gaining the USC Trojans by almost 80 yards and committing no turnovers, the Cougars lost, 39-36, when they had the game-tying FG attempt blocked in the final minutes of the game. That dropped WSU from the ranks of the unbeaten and gave the Trojans their first Pac-12 win of the season. Doh!
Big picture heading into Week 5
Seven games are on the schedule this weekend, including two high-profile out-of-conference matchups that the Pac-12 teams must win to keep building a national resume of strength. Stanford goes on the road to face No. 8 Notre Dame, while No. 20 BYU visits Seattle to take on the Huskies.
The other ten teams in the conference face each other in an exciting slate that starts on Friday night in Boulder, as the UCLA Bruins take on the Colorado Buffaloes. Look for our predictions on Friday for all these games.
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