The college football regular season has ended now, and there’s nothing left but the conference championship games. For the Pacific-12 Conference, the title tilt is Friday night, December 6, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, home of the San Francisco 49ers.
The No. 5 Utah Utes will face the No. 13 Oregon Ducks, and if the Utes win, they stand a good chance of reaching the College Football Playoff as the first Pac-12 team to do since Washington in 2016. If the Ducks win, they will head to the Rose Bowl without a shot at the CFP, due to two losses.
We finished the regular season on a high note with a perfect 6-0 mark last week, bringing our season total to 62-27 with just the title game and the bowl games to go. We can’t match last year’s 73-23 mark, but we can come close.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
The Utes are rolling now with eight straight victories, and in those eight games, the Utah defense has given up just 76 points combined. The Utes are in the position where a Pac-12 title should vault them to the CFP. Head Coach Kyle Whittingham once led Utah to a 13-0 mark and the No. 2 Associated Press ranking back in 2008, so this is not abnormal, per se. Yet the Utes have never won the Pac-12 since joining in 2011. This is the time.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
The Washington State Cougars have now lost seven straight Apple Cups to the Washington Huskies. The average margin of defeat has been 21.3 points. Three times, the Cougs have been ranked higher than the Huskies—and still gotten blown out. This year’s 31-13 loss is just more of the same for the Pullman faithful. Why does that university tolerate its head coach with such embarrassing failures against its main rival? Hmmm.
Big Performers of the Week
Other quarterbacks in the league get more press, but it is Utah’s Tyler Huntley who has 11 victories under his belt. In the Utes’ 45-15 win over Colorado that clinched the South Division title, Huntley threw just 17 passes—but completed 14 of them for 165 yards and two touchdowns. The senior has completed 75.5 percent of his passes this season.
Washington defensive back Elijah Molden was everywhere in the Apple Cup on Friday, making 14 total tackles, including one for yardage loss. He also intercepted a pass and was credited with a pass defense, too. That’s an all-around effort, although it’s a lot easier when you know what’s coming, right? Ask the Huskies defensive coordinator, of course.
Unlucky Team of the Week
It has to be the Oregon State Beavers (again?). They lost the Civil War on the road by a respectable 24-10 margin, but the team that won just four games combined from 2016-2018 could have made a bowl game this year with some different fortune. The Beavs lost three games by a combined seven points, and that stings now with the season over.
Big picture heading into Week 15
There is only one picture now: Utah vs. Oregon. We laid out the possibilities above, and the national picture has a lot to do with this, too, in terms of where the other five bowl-eligible schools in the conference end up.
The Utes are a slight favorite, and they are on a roll. The Ducks didn’t look so great against the Beavers, and if they lack motivation for a Rose Bowl berth, well … that’s not so great. Should be a good game, and we will preview it on Thursday (as usual).
Check back here frequently for new Pac-12 content!