The national picture comes more into focus each week for Oregon and Utah, the presumptive leaders in the Pacific-12 Conference championship race, although there are some interesting scenarios (see below). With another Power 5 undefeated team getting upset (Oklahoma), the Conference of Champions inches closer to a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Of course, there is a lot of football left to be played, but with just five undefeated teams left that the CFP actually would consider, the Ducks and the Utes are one-loss teams with good profiles on paper to consider—especially when multiple teams from two different conferences (B1G and SEC) are above them in that undefeated group and can’t remain undefeated.
Consider this snag, though: Utah could win out and not get a berth in the Pac-12 title game, and both the Ducks and the Utes could end up in the Top 5 with one loss. Stay tuned for that possibility.
Our predictions last week were spot on, a perfect 5-for-5, and now the season mark rests at 45-19 overall. We make no guarantees, however, and here’s some more detail on what went down over the weekend.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
The last time the Oregon Ducks beat the Washington State Cougars was in 2014, and at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, the mood was frightful when WSU took a late lead in the fourth quarter with just a minute left on a touchdown pass from Anthony Gordon to Brandon Arconado. But the Cougars are not known for defense, and much to the relief of Ducks fans all over the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon offense marched down the field and nailed the game-winning field goal on the final play of the game. The Ducks are now 5-0 in the North Division, 7-1 overall, and ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
The poor California Golden Bears … again. They’ve now lost four straight games to fall to 4-4 overall, 1-4 in conference play, while the offense couldn’t score at all in a 35-0 loss to the now-No. 9 Utes. Cal gained just 85 total yards in this game, which is sad after an offseason where upgrading the offense was a priority. Head Coach Justin Wilcox is now on the hot seat in his third year that started off with such a promise after that 4-0 start.
Big Performers of the Week
This is an easy one with Oregon running back CJ Verdell slicing through the WSU defense for 257 yards rushing and three running TDs. He also added 56 yards on four catches to account for 313 total yards and an 11.6 yards-per-touch average on the day as the Ducks won the 37-35 shootout.
Helping out on the other side of the ball, safety Jevon Holland made six tackles for the Oregon defense, which was second best on the team in this game. He also scored a defensive TD on an interception return that put the Ducks up 17-10 late in the second quarter. Oregon might not be in the Top 10 right if not for Holland’s effort.
Unlucky Team of the Week
Not if it’s luck or not, but the Colorado Buffaloes blew a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead at home against the USC Trojans to their fourth straight game. Remember, last year, Colorado started off 5-0 before losing its final seven games, and that slide cost Mike MacIntyre his head-coach job in Boulder. Now, first-year leader Mel Tucker has to be on the same alert with this year’s crash-and-burn exercise.
Big picture heading into Week 10
Both Oregon and Utah have tough road games ahead this week, and that could shake things up if the two teams aren’t sharp and focused. The Ducks travel to take on USC in Los Angeles, while the Utes go to Seattle to face the Washington Huskies. Both games have upset potential, and even though Oregon’s 2.5-game lead in the North Division is probably safe, the situation for Utah is far from secure in the South Division.
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