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PAC 12 OUTLOOK WITH 6 WEEKS LEFT

The Pac 12 has somewhat dropped out of the national conscious for a few reasons. The first is that Oregon & UCLA lost games. In UCLA’s case they’ve lost 2 and haven’t looked anything like the top-5 or top-10 team a lot of us thought they would be coming into the season. A second reason is that the conference is somewhat cannibalizing itself. Arizona beats Oregon who beats UCLA who beast Arizona State. Washington has lost a couple of games. Stanford has 3 losses at the moment. It’s pretty tough for the conference when Arizona & Utah are the most compelling stories to come out of the conference to date. Another reason is that USC hasn’t quite ascended back to their dominant perch although if things go their way they could easily wind up 11-2 and Pac 12 champions. I don’t think it would be enough for the Trojans to crash the playoff picture unless most of the Big 5 conference champions had a couple of losses, but it would put things back to a bit more normal in the Pac 12.

Even with all that said, I still believe this is the 2nd best conference in the nation behind the SEC. With so much that can still happen & with so many teams with viable chances at winning the conference, the Pac 12 is putting out must watch football for the rest of the 2014 season!

 

NORTH

 

TEAM REC WHAT TO WATCH FOR OVER LAST 6 WEEKS OF 2014
6-1 Isn’t it unusual that Oregon always seems to have a boneheaded loss somewhere that somewhat ruins their national championship hopes? In 2011 it was a home loss to USC. In 2012 it was a home loss to Stanford. In 2013 it was a road loss to Stanford. This year it’s a home loss to Arizona. With Stanford really struggling, the North is Oregon’s for the taking & even with the Arizona loss, Oregon has already beaten UCLA & Washington & gets Stanford at home. There really is no reason for Oregon not to finish 11-1, but the real kicker here is that Arizona has to continue to play well. Arizona’s 2pt loss to USC isn’t horrible & if they can win out and face Oregon in a rematch in the Pac 12 title game, it could mean the winner goes to the playoffs. That really helps Oregon. With their O-Line getting healthy, all sights should be on 12-1 & Pac 12 champions.
4-3 Stanford isn’t completely out of it. The Cardinal have 3 losses but one of those loses came against Notre Dame so assuming Stanford wins out, they could finish 9-3 & win the Pac 12 North which of course gives them the opportunity to repeat as Pac 12 champions! Stanford simply cannot force their way into the playoff picture with 3 losses, but they could potentially ruin it for the Pac 12 conference assuming either Arizona or Oregon otherwise would finish the season at 12-1. This is going to sound really odd but Stanford should be a lot more concerned with becoming bowl eligible. They need 2 more wins & only get 2 more home games. They play Oregon & UCLA on the road. Assuming those are losses they need 2 out of 3 against: California (road; Cal isn’t horrible), Oregon St. (home), Utah (home; the Utes are surprisingly good!). Six wins is no guarantee.
4-3 Cal Nation has to be absolutely ECSTATIC about California’s performance thus far. Remember that this team was 1-11 last year, being outscored by 22.9PPG! That’s insane considering some of the history of the Cal Bears football program under former HC Jeff Tedford. The Bears are actually outscoring opponents by 3.2PPG which is a 26.1PPG difference in just one season! With 3 losses there is no way Cal either wins the Pac 12 or gets into the playoffs, but bowl eligibility is on the table at this point. In their final 5 games, Cal plays a difficult schedule. They get Stanford & BYU at home which might be their best bet. They are getting a hot Oregon team on a neutral site & have road games against USC & Oregon State. They can beat the Beavers & BYU. If Cal gets to 6-6 it would be a miraculous turnaround after an 1-11 disastrous 2013 campaign.
5-2 Washington’s Pac 12 title chances took a big dip last week when they were beaten 45-20 in Eugene. That gave the Huskies 2 conference losses to Stanford & Oregon. Stanford has 2 conference losses so all Washington needs is for the Cardinal to drop one more which would push Washington over them. The tougher battle is Oregon dropping a couple of conference games while Washington runs the table. A bigger question might be bowl eligiblity. Washington plays 13 games so they need to finish 6-7 to get bowl eligible. That means they can go 1-5 in their final 6, but Washington actually has a pretty decent schedule. Colorado & Washington St. are left as well as home games against Arizona St., UCLA & Oregon State. A road game at Arizona is probably their toughest test. Nine wins will give UW their first back-to-back seasons with at least 9 wins since 1991-1992!
4-2 Like Oregon, Oregon St. has conference losses from only teams in the Pac 12 South! If the Beavers were able to run the table, then they’d wind up Pac 12 North champions at 10-2. This is actually fun to think about because Oregon St. is one of the more underrated college programs & it’s one of those teams I think carries somewhat of a national interest. It would be next to impossible for them to run the table to 11-2 & still get into the playoffs unless Utah & USC ended up the season with 10-2 records, but if the other conferences collapse then maybe. If OSU hasn’t lost to any North teams then it’s a scary proposition to think the Beavers still have Oregon, Stanford, Washington & Arizona St. still left on the schedule. A better question might be concerning bowl eligibility. Home games against Washington St. & California are almost MUST WIN.
2-5 Mike Leach can’t be happy with Wazzu’s 2-5 record but there are some things that might be in his favor. The Cougars aren’t all that far away from being a 6-1 team. They lost to Oregon, Cal & Rutgers by a combined 11 points. Nevada shouldn’t have beaten them either. There is no way they can win the North or get to the playoffs, but can Washington St. go 4-1 in their last 5 games to get bowl eligible? It’s not necessarily impossible. Three of the games are home dates against Arizona, USC & Washington. If they can keep Oregon within 7pts at home they can beat those 3 squads. The two road games are against Oregon St. & Arizona State. Not completely easy games but not unattainable either. There simply isn’t any room for error. It would be cool though to have Washington St. welcoming in Washington needing a final win to get bowl eligible.

 

SOUTH

 

TEAM REC WHAT TO WATCH FOR OVER LAST 6 WEEKS OF 2014
5-2 I think it would be impossible for USC to get to the playoffs even if they did win out, win the Pac 12 title game & finish the season at 11-2. The loss to Boston College is killer & unfortunately the loss to Arizona St. might hurt them if they keep winning because for them to win the Pac 12 South, the Sun Devils would have to start losing. With that said, USC could make an extremely good case to get to the playoffs should all Big 5 conference leaders start taking on a couple of losses. It doesn’t seem likely with Florida St., but if the SEC, Big XII & Big 10 have 2-loss champions & USC is sitting there at 11-2 with Cody Kessler getting Heisman hype, don’t they have to make the playoffs? USC’s schedule sets up really well. They get Utah, Washington St., UCLA & Cal as their remaining Pac 12 teams. If they can be consistent on the road & ASU loses, the Trojans would win the South!
5-1 There was talk last night during the Miami-FL/Virginia Tech game that Ohio St.’s loss to Virginia Tech is so detrimental because of how bad the Hokies are, that it could result in Ohio St. not making the playoffs even if they win out and finish the season as 12-1 Big 10 champions. It’s a good conversation & has meaning for Arizona State. If the Sun Devils run the table, would their 62-27 HUMILIATION at the hands of UCLA be enough to keep them out of the playoffs simply because the score differential is so high? I think it does, but Arizona St. can at least make things extremely interesting by winning out & getting to 11-1. The in over USC is really nice & like the Trojans, ASU doesn’t have Oregon down the stretch. They’ve already beaten Stanford so they are primed & ready to potentially win the South.
5-1 Very tough to go on the road to beat Oregon only to come back to your home stadium & lose to USC. The loss doesn’t necessarily hurt teh Wildcats and like Arizona St., Oregon & Utah, Arizona is still in position to run the table which would give them serious playoff consideration seeing that their only loss was to USC who very well could end up 10-2/9-3 which is great for Arizona. The schedule really does set up well for Arizona as well. They get home games against Washington & Arizona St., while road dates with UCLA & Utah look to be their most challenging victories left, but if Arizona can win in Eugene, they can certainly win those games. I think somewhat of a tricky trap game could be this week at Washington State. If Arizona can start the 2nd half of their season with a win, I think great things could happen.
5-1 Utah is the real surprise team in the Pac 12 sitting at 5-1 at the midway point. I want to take Utah for granted, but it’s difficult to do so. The win over Michigan looked like a harbinger of things to come but the Wolverines aren’t so good. What sticks out to me is Utah’s road wins over UCLA & Oregon State. They won those 2 games by a combined 8pts, but wins are wins. The next 5 weeks are B-R-U-T-A-L for the Utes. They play: USC, at Arizona St., Oregon, at Stanford, and Arizona. Remember that each one of those 5 teams have their eyes set on a Pac 12 championship if not the playoffs themselves so the Utes won’t face any teams mailing it in at the end of the season. Utah is interesting because if they win out & get to 12-1, the teams they’ve beaten are so impressive that it might not matter that they have a 1pt loss to Washington St., although the discussion will be valid.
5-2 UCLA could actually be one of the more interesting teams down the stretch. On talent alone they can hang with anyone in the nation so there isn’t a game on the schedule they can’t win. Their 2 losses have come against Oregon & Utah, but Oregon is in the North and I have a hard time believing Utah won’t lose 2-3 more games with their schedule. This means UCLA could actually still win the Pac 12 South & potentially the P12 title game! The only team that could be a thorn to them is Arizona St. who has one conference loss which was to UCLA so the Bruins only need ASU to lose another conference game. UCLA has to protect home field though. They have home games against Arizona, Stanford & USC remaining with road games against Washington & Colorado. It’s a schedule they can go 10-2 with, but they need to play to talent level. Should be VERY interesting if they keep winning.
2-5 I think Coach MacIntyre is the right man for the job but Colorado just hasn’t had much luck go their way this season. Losing to Colorado St. to open up the season was tough & the Buffs also have close losses to Oregon St. & California. If those 3 games are different then CU is 5-2 instead of 2-5 & we are talking about the potential for postseason play. At this point Colorado has to hope for another win or two because right now they certainly look like they are going to take their current 2-5 record & finish 2-10. The schedule is DAUNTING. Colorado is a young team. They could potentially have 9-10 starters back on offense & 13 of their top-16 tacklers back on defense. If you can’t watch wins then I think progression is something definitely to watch. QB Sefo Liufau is just a soph. and is having a terrific year despite the record.
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October 25, 2014 - Posted by | Arizona, Arizona St., California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon St., Pac 12, Playoffs, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington St.

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