Reacting to the developments in the Pac-12 on the field…
1. Utah Takes Over
It’s not quite November, but clarity has arrived in the South: It’s a title loss to Utah.
The Utes beat UCLA on Saturday to complete a sweep of three of their closest chasers and take complete control of the division.
His head-to-head wins in chronological order:
Utah 42, USC 26
Utah 35, ASU 21
Utah 44, UCLA 24
The results make it easy to cut the partition. If we include the tiebreaker advantage, the Utes lead ASU by two games and UCLA and USC by three games.
They only have four remaining, and two of them are against Arizona and Colorado.
Put another way: If the Utes win at Stanford on Friday night, they only need to beat the Buffaloes and the Wildcats to earn the division. Oregon Showdown isn’t necessarily a win-win game.
Utah alone is not responsible for the growing gap. ASU contributed with their no-show against Washington State.
The Sun Devils’ embarrassing 34-21 loss—it wasn’t nearly that close, by the way—was both good and bad for the conference.
Good, because it reduces the likelihood that a program under NCAA scrutiny will win the South and play for the conference championship, while potentially vacating a title down the road.
Bad, because losses by teams that could potentially be ranked could undermine Oregon’s case for a college football playoff berth.
The Ducks need to face as many top-25 opponents as possible to increase their strength-of-schedule in the regular season and conference championship game.
At this point, they would meet with a three-loss (best of) Utah for the title in Las Vegas.
The first selection committee rankings will be released on Tuesday afternoon. Will Utah make the cut?
2. Satanic Meltdown
We can’t remember a collapse as rapid and severe as the one we encountered in Tempe.
Just six quarters earlier, ASU led Utah 21-7 at halftime and were 30 minutes away from claiming division dominance.
But the Sun Devils were bowled out 28–0 in the second half by the Utes, then 28–7 in the first half by Washington State – a mind-numbing 56-7 devastation that left coach Harm Edwards and his undisciplined team behind. Gave.
Not only are the Devils the most penalized team in the conference; they committed five turnover Played against WSU and with complete indifference.
A bye was followed by a terrible performance. Two weeks to prepare, and a face plant was the result.
Sun Devils are not trained as poorly as they are untrained.
Asked about options for reversing the slide, Edwards said: “It’s the players. There won’t be any new offense. There’s not going to be a new defense. We’re not revolutionizing anything. We’ve got to execute.” (Per SunDevilSource.com.)
Next week is huge for the Sun Devils hosting USC.
Toss a lack of discipline, a lack of effort, and a two-game losing streak into a pan with NCAA scrutiny and all the internal distractions, and no one can tell how the Sun Devils might react.
They appear to be on the verge of quitting at Edwards, whose future with the school is in great doubt.
3. Cougars Bounce Back
The state of Washington at the convention at the moment is the most compelling story ever.
Two weeks after coach Nick Rolovich and four assistants failed to comply with state vaccine mandates — and a week after a narrow loss to Brigham Young — the Cougars beat Arizona State to 34 to give acting coach Jake Dickert their first win. Blown off -21.
Yes, the 16.5-point Road Underdog won by 13, and it wasn’t even close: ASU scored two touchdowns in garbage time.
Washington State has won four consecutive conference games, with three of those victories coming against northern rivals (Cal., Oregon State and Stanford).
If they keep this up, Dickert will be seriously considered for a permanent job.
This is a remarkable development given the emotions and chaos of the past few weeks, and we will take the rare step of quoting ourselves (from twitter🙂
“Hotline’s roots are for nobody and nothing (except for sub-4 hour games). But it’s impossible not to feel good for WSU, where players are making the most of their season because five selfish coaches have made the most of their season. Putting your personal preferences to what is best for the team.”
WSU (5-4) would have to win one of their last three to become bowl-eligible. Cougars have a goodbye, travel to Oregon, host Arizona and head to Seattle.
Beat Arizona at home, and they’re in the postseason.
What is the story
4. Baul Mathematics
Three teams entered Saturday: UCLA, Oregon State and Arizona State, who needed a win to secure a postseason berth.
All three lost.
In a way, this bodes well for the Pac-12, as three teams at the Shaker Ground (Utah, Cal and WSU) won wins that brought them closer to the postseason.
At this time, five teams need a win for a Bowl bid: Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA, Utah and WSU.
Two others need two more wins: USC and Washington.
And two others need three wins: Stanford and Cal.
Don’t discount the bears (3-5). For all the narrow losses in the first half of the season, they have produced back-to-back victories and can easily collect the necessary wins down the stretch to sneak into the post season.
Cal’s remaining opponents (with records):
In Arizona (0-8)
vs. USC (4-4)
at Stanford (3-5)
at UCLA (5-4)
We give Bears a 30% chance to win three more.
5. London is falling
The best offensive player in the Pac-12 played his last game as a collegiate.
USC receiver Drake London, as the conference has dominated widely over the years, was injured and taken off the field in the win over Arizona.
He was seen holding his lower leg and was placed in an air cast.
Until we get official word, the hotline will assume that London is out for the rest of the season, posing a deeper problem for the USC offense that had become overly dependent on it for production.
You’ll be able to see London in the NFL next year.
The conference has now lost its highest-profile skill-status players to London and Oregon tailback CJ Wordell, who suffered lower leg injuries against Stanford and is out for the season.
have serious injuries Always Unfortunate. This goes double when the very few conventions on star power lose their biggest stars.
Wordell’s profile skyrocketed after his three-touchdown performance at Ohio State, to the point that he appeared on the Heisman Trophy nominees list. London was headed for the All-American season.
We wish him well.
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