The Pacific-12 Conference has its division champions for football, and even though there is one more regular-season game left to be played—The Big Game, rescheduled from November 17—it comes down to the Utah Utes and the Washington Huskies.
The Conference of Champions will have its Championship Game on Friday night in Santa Clara, CA, at Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers. There will be no Pac-12 team in the College Football Playoff, however, as with the Huskies’ 28-15 win over the Washington State Cougars, the league victor will have three losses—and no team with more than one loss is making the CFP.
How did we arrive here? Read on. Our last full week of predictions saw us choose wisely on five of seven matchups, so our season mark overall is now at a lofty 66-21 level. And yes, we will be choosing bowl games, so there’s a lot of action left. Stay tuned for that.
In the meantime …
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
The Washington Huskies started the season with a national championship as a goal. That went out the window right away, almost, as they lost a “neutral” site game to Auburn in Atlanta by five points. Then, the Huskies choked away a game in Eugene when they couldn’t hit a chip-shot, game-winning field goal at the end of regulation. We won’t even mention the meltdown in Berkeley.
But all is well now as the Huskies can win the Pac-12 and go to the Rose Bowl, after winning a sixth-straight Apple Cup on Friday. Washington can heal a lot of its wounds with a win over Utah next week, and it’s never a bad season when you end up in the Rose Bowl.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
On the flip side, this was the Cougars’ year, or so they thought. But in the end, the size of Washington’s offensive line and the coaching staff on Washington’s defense made the big difference in an Apple Cup game that really wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Just think, if WSU hadn’t lost to USC in September—when the Cougars themselves missed a chip-shot FG attempt near the end of regulation—the Apple Cup wouldn’t have mattered for the Pac-12 North Division. Let that sink in for a few minutes.
Big performers from Week 13
Washington running back Myles Gaskin was a thorn in the Cougars’ side until he thrust the dagger in their collective hearts. Overall, Gaskin ran for 170 yards and three touchdowns—in the snow!—against the WSU defense, including two 5-yard TD runs in the first half and an 80-yard TD run in the second half that effectively ended the game. Gaskin also made some Pac-12 history in the process.
Oregon cornerback Thomas Graham, Jr. did a lot of damage to the Oregon State Beavers in the Civil War on Friday, as the Ducks won, 55-15. He made six solo tackles to tie for the team lead, and Graham, Jr. also intercepted two passes—returning one 38 yards for a TD in the fourth quarter as Oregon buried OSU.
Unlucky Team of the Week
The Arizona Wildcats needed to win the Territorial Cup to get to six wins and earn a bowl invite. At the start of the fourth quarter, at home, Arizona was up 40-21. But yeah, the Wildcats choked it away, allowing Arizona State to score four times in the fourth quarter to take a 41-40 lead. Then, with the clock winding down, the Wildcats still had a chance to win the game. But their kicker missed a 45-yard FG attempt as time ran out, and just like that, Arizona’s season is over. That had to hurt, especially since it made an inept coach like Herm Edwards look good!
Big picture heading into Week 14
It is straightforward and simple again this week: The conference champion will go to the Rose Bowl, probably to face the Michigan Wolverines, while the loser will go to the Holiday Bowl, perhaps to face the Penn State Nittany Lions. Utah has never been to the Rose Bowl, and the Utes are just as well coached as the Huskies. The Pac-12 Championship Game will be a doozy.
As for the Big Game, Stanford is going for its ninth-straight win in the rivalry. Both the Cardinal and the California Golden Bears are 7-4 and jockeying for better bowl bids. There is more than just pride on the line Saturday in Berkeley.
Stay tuned for our game predictions on Thursday morning!
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