One of the realities of the Pacific-12 Conference in football these days in parity. There is no super team dominating the league, and sometimes, strangely, that’s what you need to get to the College Football Playoff — which doesn’t make sense at all, but that’s why college football is not the most respectable sport (anymore?).
The Conference of Champions suffers because so many of its teams are good, and they just keep beating each other. In the process, there’s no super team to “impress” the CFP committee. That’s going to be the case again this year, unless the Pac-12’s last hope pulls through and wins the rest of its games.
Depth is here: The conference has five teams ranked in the Top 25 now, but none higher than No. 14 Washington State. If the Cougars can win six more games, would the CFP even consider them? Only time will tell.
On to our recaps, where—we are proud to say—our predictions got back on track last week with a 5-1 mark. Overall, that’s 46-12 this season if you’re counting at home like we are.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
No one is happy than the people in Pullman. Not only did ESPN College GameDay come to WSU for the first time ever, but the Cougars delivered with a 34-20 beatdown of the Oregon Ducks. The home team jumped out to a 27-0 halftime lead and did just enough in the second half to take control of the Pac-12 North Division (for now). If WSU can win its final five games of the regular season, it will win the division and advance to the conference championship game. The Cougars are, in all probability, the Pac-12’s final hope for a berth in the CFP this year, as they are the only team left in the league with just one loss this season.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
It has to be the Ducks fans. For the first time since the early 1980s, Oregon has lost four straight times to Washington State. The Ducks also had to play on the road for that big game on Saturday, which was the fourth straight for the team against a ranked opponent. That’s rough. It was a letdown on all fronts for Oregon, as the Ducks were never really in this game, falling behind early and quickly. Fatigue catches up with even the best teams, and it was both mental and physical for Oregon on Saturday. Considering the Cougars both threw an interception in the red zone and missed an extra point in the first half, it could have been a lot worse for the Ducks.
Big performers from Week 8
Utah junior quarterback Tyler Huntley lit it up against the USC Trojans on Saturday. He completed 22 of 29 passes for 341 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. All that added up to an insane 220.2 QB rating for the game as the Utes beat the Trojans, 41-28, while rolling up 541 yards of total offense against USC’s defense.
Washington State junior safety Jalen Thompson came up big in the win over the Ducks with seven total tackles and three passes defended as well. Thompson made the play on Oregon’s last-gasp attempt at a comeback by knocking down a pass on fourth down, late in the fourth quarter. He is also on pace for career-high marks in tackles and passes defended this season.
Unlucky Team of the Week
The Arizona Wildcats had to play on the road at UCLA without their starting quarterback, and they came up just short, 31-30, to drop to 3-5 on the season overall. It’s going to be tough for the Wildcats to make a bowl game now, and despite outgaining the Bruins by 60 yards and getting more than 100 yards in penalties against UCLA, Arizona just couldn’t snag the win. That’s just bum luck.
Big picture heading into Week 9
Another six games on tap coming up, and the big one is WSU at Stanford, which is ranked again. This could be another weekend where the Pac-12’s competitive balance costs it dearly, in terms of national exposure and opportunity. The Cardinal have not been consistently good this year, but the Cougars are a lesser team on the road. It should be an interesting game.
We will have our predictions for Week 9 on Friday afternoon.
Check back here frequently for new Pac-12 content!