The Utah Utes are champions of the Pacific-12 Conference’s South Division. All that remains is an Apple Cup battle on Friday in Pullman to decide which Washington school wins the Pac-12 North Division. Then, we have a set game for the league championship in the Conference of Champions.
As fare as the College Football Playoff goes, the Washington State Cougars remain the only Pac-12 team with a shot, and as the Cougs are ranked No. 7 in the country, it will take some upsets in the final two weekends of the season—and two more WSU victories—to get the league into the CFP’s Final Four.
In addition to Washington State, the cross-state No. 16 Huskies are ranked in the AP Top 25, as are the No. 18 Utes. If Washington can win the Apple Cup on Friday, it will move up in the rankings, but with three losses already, neither the Huskies nor the Utes have a shot at the CFP.
Our season is going well, in terms of predictions: Last week, we picked four of five winners correctly (The Big Game was rescheduled to December 1), and our overall mark now stands at 61-19 for 2018. If anyone out there has done better, we want to know.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
Well, several teams did well last week, but the honor has to go to the Utah Utes, who clinched their first-ever South Division title. In the school’s eighth season in the Pac-12 Conference, the Utes have been ranked at some point in each of the last five years, but this means more. Utah has won six of its last seven, and the team will get a chance to avenge an earlier loss in the Pac-12 Championship Game, no matter who the opponent.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
Truthfully, it is probably the California Golden Bears. The team has been hot and on a roll lately, and the postponement of the matchup against Stanford could not have come at a worse time. Now, the Golden Bears have to play Colorado this week at home, which is not so much the problem as resetting the emotional preparation for the Cardinal the following week. Argh!
Big performers from Week 12
Just to be different, we cannot go with Cougars quarterback Gardner Minshew II again, even though he threw for 473 yards and seven (!) touchdowns against Arizona last week. No, we’re going with UCLA Bruins running back Joshua Kelly, who ran for 289 yards and two TDs against USC in the Bruins’ 34-27 upset win on Saturday. The senior has ten scores on the ground this year, and he is averaging 5.7 yards per carry in 2018.
WSU sophomore linebacker Jahad Woods had a stellar game against the Wildcats, leading the underrated united in holding the surging Arizona offense down. Woods made 11 tackles, forced a fumble on the goal line that saved a TD, and then recovered another fumble later in the game that led to a TD. The Wildcats never knew what hit them in a 69-28 loss.
Unlucky Team of the Week
We admit it: The idea of Herm Edwards coaching Arizona State made us laugh. Even when the Sun Devils beat Michigan State early in the season—and ruined the Spartans’ year by knocking out both the starting running back and the punter with season-ending injuries—we knew it was a fluke.
However, ASU has done well for itself all things considered. The team’s five losses have come by a total of 30 points, including four on the road. The Sun Devils may have a future after all under Edwards, and the 31-29 loss at Oregon on Saturday demonstrates this. ASU forced four turnovers and came just one two-point conversion away from overtime in a very tough environment.
Big picture heading into Week 13
It’s simple: The Apple Cup will decide the Utes’ opponent in the conference title game. WSU Head Coach Mike Leach is 0-4 against Washington, but this may be the year for the Cougars to break through against Huskies Head Coach Chris Petersen. The last time Washington State won the Apple Cup was in 2012, but the Cougars have a 12-game home winning streak (dating back to the Washington game in 2016).
We will have our predictions for Week 13 sometime tomorrow, because we like to take Thursday off for turkey—and football.
Check back here frequently for new Pac-12 content!