After five weeks, the Pacific-12 Conference has just one unbeaten team remaining: the Colorado Buffaloes. What’s the old saying? “They just beat each other up!” Although, in this case, the two best teams in the conference have road losses to Top 10 teams—not defeats in conference play.
That will remain important going forward as the Pac-12 tries to get an invite to the College Football Playoff for its eventual champion. A handful of conference teams could run the table, finish 12-1, and still not get an invite to the CFP, based on past (and biased) precedent.
Here’s the rundown on what happened last week, and by the way, we went 6-1 with our picks last week to run our season record to 36-9 now. Try and stop us.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
After beating UCLA, 38-16, at home on Friday night, the Buffs sit atop the Pac-12 South all alone. Sure, there are eight more conference games to go, and no one expects Colorado to run the table, but 4-0 is better than not 4-0. Remember, the Buffaloes won the division in 2016 on their way to a 10-win season, so who is to say they cannot do it again in 2018? The next two games are winnable (home against Arizona State and on the road at USC), so if the Buffs can get to 6-0, it makes that Week 8 matchup against Washington all that more exciting. By the way, Colorado is now ranked 21st in the Associated Press poll.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
Probably the Stanford Cardinal fans, in truth. The team got its lunch handed to it in South Bend, dropping to No. 14 in the country as a result of the 38-17 loss to Notre Dame. It wasn’t even that close. With the score tied at 14 apiece in the second quarter, the Irish outscored Stanford 24-3 the rest of the way as the Cardinal clearly ran out of gas after the incredible comeback win against Oregon the week before. Having to play back-to-back road games against ranked teams in September just isn’t fair, is it?
Big performers from Week 5
Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin, who had just 27 yards on 13 carries against Michigan State last month, exploded against Oregon State on Saturday. He ran for 312 yards and three touchdowns, while also adding a TD on a pass reception. Ten of his 30 carries against the Beavers went for at least ten yards.
Meanwhile, Oregon senior safety Ugochukwu Amadi spearheaded his team’s 42-24 victory over then-ranked California on the road, as he tallied two interceptions and seven tackles. His INT return for a TD in the fourth quarter helped seal the game for the Ducks, who really needed this win after losing at home to Stanford in Week 4. Oregon is ranked 18th now after beating the Golden Bears.
Unlucky Team of the Week
It is probably the Utah Utes. Why? Because they got burned badly late in the fourth quarter on Saturday in Pullman against Washington State. The Cougars were trailing, 24-21, with less than five minutes left. Facing a 2-and-6 from its own 11-yard line, the WSU offense struck like lightning. Quarterback Gardner Winshew II hit Easop Winston on a deep out, and Winston made some Utes secondary players miss with some awesome jukes on his way to an 89-yard TD that clinched the game for the Cougs. That had to hurt Utah, which falls to 0-2 in Pac-12 play.
Big picture heading into Week 6
The Ducks and the USC Trojans have byes this weekend, and there are five conference games scheduled for Saturday. Each game has its own intrigue, but the Cardinal return home to host the Utes, and Utah won’t want to lose three in a row. The Utes are too good for that, but Stanford will be itching to get back on track. Also, Cal visits Arizona as two teams try to make sure the season doesn’t slip away early.
The matchup with the most implications, however, is probably the ASU-Colorado game. The Buffs want to keep rolling, and the Sun Devils want to prove that MSU win earlier was no fluke. Check back with us on Thursday for previews and predictions, as always.
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