As the first College Football Playoff committee rankings are being prepared for public consumption tomorrow, the Pacific-12 Conference expects to be right in the middle of it, thanks to the Oregon Ducks and the Utah Utes, two Top 10 teams that won big road games on Saturday.
The Ducks went to the USC and knocked off the South Division-leading Trojans, 56-24, while the Utes went to Seattle and beat the defending conference champion Washington Huskies, 33-28. Oregon stayed at No. 7 in the Associated Press poll, while Utah moved up a spot to No. 8 thanks to Florida’s loss against Georgia.
We lost some of our momentum last week in underestimating the Utes and the Oregon State Beavers, so our season mark stands at 47-21 right now. Last year, we posted a 73-23 record. We are slipping … but here’s how it all went down on Saturday.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
Instead of the obvious Oregon and Utah nods, let’s go with the Oregon State Beavers. This is a school that posted just three victories in 2017 and 2018 combined, and overall, since winning the Hawaii Bowl after the 2013 season, the Beavs went 14-46 overall from 2014-2018. With the big road win over the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday, Oregon State is now 4-4, with a 3-2 record in conference play. The Beavers sit alone in second place among North Division teams with a legit chance to make a bowl game for the first time since 2013. OSU will have to beat two of the following teams to do that: Washington (H), Arizona State (H), Washington State (A), and Oregon (A). Beating the Sun Devils and the Cougars is the best way the Beavers find their way to a bowl game.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
Southern Cal has been the flagship school for West Coast football over generations of the sport. To be 5-4 right now, after getting blown out at home by the Ducks, is not what the Trojans expect. Sure, the glory days of 2002-2009 are long gone, as are the 1960s and 1970s. But still … USC beat Utah earlier this year, and the Trojans were still atop the South Division until this ugly loss. Now, with two road games left, the team might be lucky to win seven games. We can’t imagine Head Coach Clay Helton makes it to 2020.
Big Performers of the Week
The Ducks have a lot of offensive weapons, and wide receiver Juwan Johnson is one of them. The Trojans learned the hard way, as he caught seven passes for 106 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday. Oregon led 28-17 at halftime, and then Johnson scored three straight times to turn the game into a blowout by the fourth quarter.
The UCLA Bruins have won three games in a row, giving up just 21 points per game. In the 31-14 win over Colorado on Saturday, linebacker Krys Barnes had seven tackles, registered 1.5 sacks, and intercepted a pass to help stymie the Buffaloes. You could say he was all over the field, as the Bruins jumped out to a 17-0 lead and never let Colorado back into the ballgame.
Unlucky Team of the Week
The Huskies have four losses this season already by a combined 20 points. It is surprising to see a team coached by Chris Petersen struggling to win the close ones, with his track record. This is a team that posted a 32-9 mark from 2016-2018, thanks to its well-coached roster and smart play. Losing another close one, at home no less, stings the Washington fan base. The Huskies have lost three games at home in conference by 10 total points.
Big picture heading into Week 11
Both Oregon and Utah have the week off, which means they can only move up in the rankings since (at least) one of the teams above them in the polls should lose. But that doesn’t mean the conference slate will be bereft of drama: California and WSU fight it out for last place in the North Division in Berkeley, while USC and ASU go head-to-head to stay within shouting distance of Utah in the South Division.
Check back here frequently for new Pac-12 content!