The Conference of (real NCAA) Champions is allegedly “down” right now in football, because no Pacific-12 team has been tabbed for the corrupt College Football Playoff since Washington in 2016. What this really means, though, is that there is so much parity in the league that no one team is going to be able to negotiate its way through the season undefeated.
(Also, there’s that other issue of Pac-12 fans being passionate with their checkbooks about other sports besides football, as well, but that’s a topic for another day.)
Week 4 of the 2019 season proved this once again, as the California Golden Bears are the only team left unblemished this year, and it’s not even October yet. In what may have been our worst week ever predicting Pac-12 games, we only got two of six predictions correct last week—as if that proves our clichéd headline today.
The 27-12 overall mark would still do us fine in Vegas, but … onto what happened in Week 4 instead.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
The No. 15 Cal Bears sit atop the conference with a 4-0 record and a key victory already in pocket over the Washington Huskies in Week 2. And even if it was just Ole Miss, the team went into SEC territory in Week 4 and won a game on the road to solidify its out-of-conference strength of schedule. The chances of Cal running the table with road games still remaining against Oregon and Utah is minimal, but right now, it’s a Golden Bears world—and the rest of the Pac-12 just lives in it.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
The Washington State Cougars blew a 49-17 third-quarter lead at home on Saturday night to previously winless UCLA, dropping the game by the absurd basketball score of 67-63, committing a whopping six turnovers and allowing two special-teams touchdown returns. If Head Coach Mike Leach had just trusted his star running Max Borghi to run the ball with a lead—the kid has never fumbled in his college career, spanning 179 touches—then the Cougars probably would have won. But Leach is a one-trick pony who never learns, and his hubris cost WSU a game it never should have lost.
Big Performers of the Week
What’s it like to throw for a school-record nine touchdown passes and lose the game? Ask WSU quarterback Anthony Gordon, who did just that on Saturday against the Bruins. Gordon bookended his record day (41 of 61 for 570 yards) with a bad interception to start the game that handed UCLA an easy score and a bad fumble at the end of the game that cemented the game for the Bruins. Life is crazy sometimes.
Meanwhile, Cal senior linebacker Evan Weaver made a whopping 22 tackles against the Rebels, including 11 solo efforts and a half sack. The Golden Bears never trailed in this game, but the defense stood up tall at the end of the game to stop Ole Miss from the potential, game-tying touchdown in the final seconds. Weaver was everywhere on the field all day long.
Unlucky Team of the Week
In a game marred by a total of 27 penalties and 237 penalty yards by both teams, the Utah Utes lost, 30-23, on the road to the USC Trojans, despite out-gaining the home team by 76 yards and winning the turnover battle. How does that happen? The 16 penalties on Utah are part of it, and for such a well-coached team, that was a surprise. But how do you earn 11 more first downs than the opponent and still find yourself trailing by two TDs in the fourth quarter? Yikes, that had to hurt loyal Utes fans, as Utah had a legitimate shot at going undefeated this year, especially with the Pac-12 South Division being so uneven.
Big picture heading into Week 5
Two games stand out this upcoming weekend as the No. 21 Trojans head to Seattle to face the No. 17 Huskies, while WSU heads to Salt Lake City to face the No. 19 Utes—both teams coming off very disheartening losses and facing sheer disaster if they lose again so soon. Welcome to the Pac-12, where these teams just beat each other up.
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