The Oregon Ducks and the Utah Utes had the week off, and on the national scene, two undefeated teams ranked ahead of the two Pacific-12 Conference teams lost—yet neither team really gained an advantage in the eyes of the national pollsters … not a good sign going forward for the Best Coast schools.
With Alabama and Penn State both losing, Oregon only moved up one spot in the Associated Press poll to No. 6, while Utah held still at No. 8 in the country. There are sad reasons for this, which we will explore later this week in this space, but the Pac-12 seems frozen out of the top spots for now, barring more losses by top teams ahead of the Ducks and the Utes.
Meanwhile, the league slate over the weekend did not produce any major surprises, although we only got two of our four predictions correct. With a 49-23 record this season, we’d have to go undefeated from here on out to match last season’s prowess. Doh!
Here’s what went down over the weekend in the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions …
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
It’s those crazy Ducks fans again, really, despite the fact their team didn’t play a game. With the Crimson Tide losing—and perhaps unable to win their division in the SEC—Oregon improved its chances to sneak into the corrupt College Football Playoff with a 12-1 record and a Pac-12 title, if it can win out. Also, with the Oregon State Beavers losing to the Washington Huskies, the Ducks now have a three-game lead in the North Division of the Pac-12, with three games to play. Do the math.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
The Washington State Cougars faithful should be angry—and not just with overrated Head Coach Mike Leach. The Cougs got the shaft on a terrible officiating blunder in Berkeley on Saturday, and while that did not cost them the game, the WSU fans have to wonder what happened to them this season. They cannot catch a break, although maybe the team caught all the breaks in going 20-6 in 2017 and 2018 combined.
For the record, Leach is now just 37-41 against Power 5 opponents as the Cougars head man, and that is pretty mediocre all things considered. And the school is stuck with him, thanks to a hefty price tag no one in their right mind would buy out. We will write more on this issue later in the week, too … never fear.
Big Performers of the Week
California had scored just 41 points in its prior four games, but the Golden Bears erupted for 33 points against Washington State. Quarterback Devon Modster had an excellent game, throwing for 230 yards and three touchdowns on 16-of-24 passing. He also ran for 43 yards and a TD as well to account for four scores in the big win for Cal that broke a four-game losing streak for a team that was once ranked No. 15 in the country.
Washington linebacker Joe Tryon had a huge game on the road in Corvallis against a Beavers offense that had been on a roll. He had seven tackles overall, including five for loss and two sacks totaling 18 yards. After scoring 56 points last week on the road in Tucson, Oregon State managed just seven points at home against the Huskies, thanks to Tryon’s dominating efforts.
Unlucky Team of the Week
That would be Utah, which failed to move up in the rankings despite the losses by Alabama and Penn State. In fact, perhaps the Utes are “lucky” that they’re still ranked ahead of the Nittany Lions. Of course, Utah controls its own destiny: If it wins out, there’s little room for the CFP committee to exclude the Utes from the CFP. So “unlucky” is a loose term right now for Utah, perhaps.
Big picture heading into Week 12
There are five games next week, including home games for Oregon and Utah against South Division teams with upsets on the mind. The Ducks will host Arizona, while the Utes get to entertain the UCLA Bruins in Salt Lake City. Strangely, the Bruins are just one game behind Utah in the South Division, so Utah better be focused on this game.
Check back here frequently for new Pac-12 content!