This is why people either love or hate the Oregon Ducks: After choking away a road game at Arizona State, the Ducks—definitely the most talented team in the Pacific-12 Conference—officially eliminated the league from the College Football Playoff by beating the Utah Utes on Friday night to win the conference championship game.
And just like that, the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions once again won’t be playing in the CFP. For the third year in a row, the Pac-12 is not invited to the unofficial Final Four of college football. If the Utes had won, there is a good chance they would have been part of the playoff, but now the league has a three-season absence from the CFP.
Oh well. It will continue to put the Pac-12 at a disadvantage, in terms of perception, when the 2020 season kicks off next August, and the 12 teams from the Best Coast states will have to fight the bias in the one sport where no school wins an official NCAA title.
[And our predictive record dropped to 62-28 this season as well, and all that is left now are seven bowl games to analyze next week!]
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be happy?
Definitely the Oregon crowd—because every other team and its fans got the shaft when the Ducks rolled the Utes, 37-15, in Santa Clara at Levi’s Stadium. Oregon gets to go to the Rose Bowl, and the rest of the six bowl-bound teams all dropped down a notch in the bowl pecking order as a result. Talk about ruining it for everyone else … geez, Ducks. You really suck.
What Pac-12 team’s fans will be mad?
In truth, the rest of the bowl-bound teams all got good matchups, so perhaps the team that is most sore is the Utes. The team with the most to gain came out flat in the first half and fell behind 20-0, and although Utah made a game of it in the third quarter, trailing just 23-15 heading into the final 15 minutes, the Utes couldn’t close the game at more—and ended up collapsing in the fourth quarter. That had to be crushing for Utah’s fans.
Big Performers of the Week
Oregon running back CJ Verdell scored three touchdowns, running for 208 yards on just 18 carries. He was a singular wrecking ball in the fourth quarter, too, running for a 70-yard TD and then adding a 31-yard TD run to close the scoring—and the Utah hopes for a comeback.
Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux was a one-man wrecking crew against the Utes, registering five total tackles which included 2.5 sacks. Overall, the Ducks defense has six sacks and three other tackles for lost yardage, which helped stunt the Utah offense from the first quarter on.
Unlucky Team of the Week
It has to be Utah, although you wonder if it was bad luck or bad preparation. Utes Head Coach Kyle Whittingham is one of the best, but he clearly did not have his team ready for kickoff on Friday night. He made some good halftime adjustments, but it wasn’t enough playing against a team with superior talent.
Big picture heading into Bowl Season
With the No. 7 Ducks going to the Rose Bowl against Big Ten also-ran Wisconsin, most of the Pac-12 matchups favor the Conference of Champions. No. 12 Utah will play Texas in the Alamo Bowl, and the Longhorns went just 7-5 this year. Meanwhile, the No. 22 USC goes to the Holiday Bowl to face Iowa, giving another good matchup between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten.
Meanwhile, in lesser bowls, California takes on Illinois in the Redbox Bowl; Arizona State played Florida State in the Sun Bowl; Washington draws Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl; and Washington State faces Air Force in the Cheez-It Bowl.
We will have full previews of the Pac-12 bowl season on Thursday, December 19.
Check back here frequently for new Pac-12 content!