Nine facts about the seventh week of Pac-12 football season …
1) Oregon’s second season kicks off Friday night with the Ducks (4-1 / 1-1) entering the field for the first time since their defeat to Stanford.
The margin for error and the aura of invincibility gained from the victory in Ohio were gone. Win and the Ducks will be fine: With the score 12-1, with a Pac-12 championship and a victory over the Buckeyes, they have a great case for college football playoffs.
But a second defeat is likely to doom their chances. No team with two losses has made a CFP cut in the tournament’s seven-year history.
Their difficult path begins, respectively, with a difficult opponent:
Cal has held the Ducks 17 points in each of the past two seasons, with the teams tied for play.
Oregon has scored at least 20 points against all of the conference rivals in those two years.
2) Friday night (7:30 pm, ESPN) is also Oregon’s first game without defenseman CJ Verdell, who suffered a leg injury at the end of the season in a defeat to Stanford.
However, the times could have been worse: Travis Dye, who replaced Verdell, played successfully against Cal over the years.
In 2018, he ran 115 yards in 20 attempts.
In 2019, he scored 81 yards in 15 transfers.
And in 2020, Dye raced 71 yards on 12 shifts and had two catches at 85 yards.
On Friday night, the Ducks may be without attack coordinator Joe Moorehead. The reputable player is recovering from surgery and was not present at the Stanford game.
His absence was noticeable: Oregon struggled to find their rhythm, and quarterback Anthony Brown looked out of his kind.
We’re not suggesting that Moorhead is more important than Verdell … in fact, we are.
3) However, Cal’s defense is not the same as in previous seasons.
The Bears are ranked 68th in the country in terms of allowed yards per game (5.53).
We will not count the past year because all players have lost to the COVID protocols. But in 2019, the Bears were 43rd in yards per game allowed.
And three years ago they were No. 9.
The deterioration could be attributed to injuries, staff cuts and the loss of several key aides, including former Defense Coordinator Tim DeRuyter, who is now calling to play for … Oregon.
4) Percentage of teams in each Power Five conference with 0.500 or losing records:
The Big Ten: 42.8%
Large 12: 20%
5) His strength versus weakness in Seattle, where UCLA’s land grab game clashes with Washington’s porous defenses.
Correct: UW’s usually strong defenses played the role of a turnstile in five games.
Huskies allow 4.56 yards per carry (No. 98 Nationwide) and 182.2 yards per game (No. 101).
Meanwhile, the Bruins are making their way to more than 200 yards per game, with the shanks duo Zach Charbonnet and Britten Brown following the veteran offensive line.
However, on Saturday, the University of California at Los Angeles was at a disadvantage: the Husky had two weeks to rest and prepare.
6) Pac-12 quarterbacks are in the top 50 pass ratings by country:
28. Cam Utah Rising
29.Dorian Thompson-Robinson of the University of California, Los Angeles
33. Jaden Daniels from Arizona
37. Oregon Nolan Chance
43. Tanner McKee from Stanford
49. Jaden de Laura from Washington State
7) Saturday is the last chance this season for Arizona (0-5 / 0-2) and Colorado (1-4 / 0-2) to win the conference.
The inhabitants of the southern cellars are entwined in Boulder, and their story is wide awake:
The team last played 0-9 in a Pac-12 game in Oregon in 2017, when head coach Gary Andersen retired mid-season.
Arizona have lost 17 times in a row, with their last win at Boulder two seasons ago.
8) If the fight between the states of Utah and Arizona for control of the South is in doubt in the last minutes, it will end the trend in the series.
Winning team and win difference in last five meetings (by location):
2015: Utah +16 (Salt Lake City)
2016: Utah +23 (Tempe)
2017: ASU +20 (Salt Lake City)
2018: ACS +18 (Tempe)
2019: Utah +18 (Salt Lake City)
2020: no game
With victory, the Sun Devils will become the clear leader in the struggle for the South.
9) Washington State’s four-game winning streak against Stanford is not the longest in history for the Cougars. Since 1957, they have won eight in a row.
The longest WSU winning streak against current conference contender is the 13-game Oregon domination that began in 1979.
(The Cougars have a four-game streak against Arizona, ASU, California, Oregon, UCLA, and Utah.)
While not one of the weekend’s highlights (ESPNU’s broadcast is proof of it), the match is nonetheless vital for both players.
The winner will improve to 4-3 overall and face a much easier postseason exit, only needing to win two of the remaining five games to qualify for a bowl spot.
The loser must win three of the last five.
Both teams have challenging schedules ahead with challenging tasks not related to the conference:
WSU plays Brigham Young at number 19, and Stanford plays Notre Dame at number 14.
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