Power rankings are often all the same, so we’re mixing things up. Each week you’ll get a rundown of 12 or fewer highlights, storylines and anything in between from the Conference of Champions.
Also included is a new turnover toy, Alex Brink, one last mention of Porter Gustin’s nasty headshot, The Rock, and more.
Also, this week you’re only getting ten of these. Just one of those weeks.
OK, onto the rankings!
1. Welcome to the club, Oregon
There’s really nothing more to say about this one.
When will coaches learn that it’s OK to take a knee even if it means you’ll have to punt the ball away with just seconds remaining? This is probably a reason why. Still, that seems like the exception.
I had New Mexico Bowl flashbacks watching the Ducks fumble the game away to Stanford. Washington fans probably had flashbacks to their 2014 game against Arizona, and Arizona fans probably had flashbacks to their game against our Cougs in 2004.
That’s two years in a row the Cardinal escaped the state of Oregon with a fortunate win.
2. #Pac-12Refs screw up an explanation
I may be a tad too harsh to point out that a referee failed to adequately explain a replay ruling, confusing fans and viewers during the Oregon-Stanford game.
But, it was a big ruling.
Everybody thought Jaylon Redd scored after making contact with the pylon. No biggie, right? We see that all the time. Except, his foot hit the pylon—which by rule is out of bounds—and the ball was in his arm and not to the goal line yet. We’re used to seeing players dive for the pylon for a touchdown.
After the review, the referee explained that his left foot was out of bounds before the ball crossed the goal line. That was all correct, but it would have been nice for him to explain that the pylon is out of bounds. Here’s how he could have explained it:
“After review, it was determined the runner’s left foot hit the pylon before the ball crossed the goal line. By rule, the pylon is out of bounds. The ball will be placed on the one-yard line.”
But like I said, I’m probably being too harsh.
3. Oregon fans embarrass themselves
Fans of the Oregon Ducks developed a reputation earlier this century as ruthless, annoying, foul-mouthed and overall a-holes. It’s one reason why there is so much hatred for the Ducks.
Oregon fans haven’t really been heard from the past few years and a look at the Pac-12 standings will tell you why.
But now Oregon is back! How do we know? This:
Not a great look as Oregon fans throw bottles at Stanford as the Cardinal head up the tunnel. pic.twitter.com/KBSNXNxYvl— Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) September 23, 2018
Shirtless guy takes much of the attention, but check out the kid right above the tunnel as he slyly knocks something off the ledge in the direction of the Stanford Cardinal players.
And yes, I remember the infamous Apple Cup ugliness of 2002, before anybody starts saying something about a black kettle.
4. Justin Herbert’s near-perfect night reminds some of Aaron Rodgers. It reminded me of Alex Brink.
Justin Herbert was having himself a night on Saturday. At one point he had missed on just two passes, making The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel remind his readers of Aaron Rodgers’ near-perfect performance in 2004:
Anyone old enough to remember Aaron Rodgers' near-perfect 2004 game against USC?— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) September 23, 2018
Justin Herbert is having one of those games tonight against Stanford. 23-of-25 for 305 yards.
Herbert finished 26-of-33 in the loss, as Stanford cracked down in OT. Rodgers’ performance in 2004 was similar. He had missed on just two passes—one of them was a throwaway—before being stymied by the USC defense.
But enough about them. Anybody remember Alex Brink’s near-perfect day at Martin Stadium against Oregon in 2006? The Cougs came away with a 34-23 upset victory and Brink finished 20-of-23.
5. What’s going to happen to the officials who missed Porter Gustin targeting Gardner Minshew?
First, make sure you read Brian Floyd’s piece from yesterday regarding Larry Scott’s comments.
You back? Good.
The Pac-12 reportedly looked at the Porter Gustin headshot on Gardner Minshew on Monday (remember, Larry Scott’s comments were made Saturday), just like it reviews a number of plays from the weekend. As Jon Wilner noted, since there was no flag on the play, the conference won’t retroactively levy any penalty.
OK, fine. Even if they did, it wouldn’t impact WSU one bit. The play’s over, the game’s over, and if the conference was allowed to suspend Gustin, it’s not like the suspension would come against WSU.
But what will happen to the officials that missed it, the ones on the field and in the so-called command center? Will they be suspended? Will they be prohibited from officiating any future WSU games?
We’ll probably never know.
6. Turnover Gains
Another week, another turnover toy. This time, it’s the Arizona State Sun Devils and the workout one defender gets after each turnover:
Turnover chains?— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) September 23, 2018
How about turnover...gains??? pic.twitter.com/vHRM9s3vSw
At one point I thought these things were kind of silly, but now I’m interested in the one-upping going on around college football. Keep ‘em coming!
7. ‘Ballers’ uses USC in unbelievably unreal storyline
I’ve never seen ‘Ballers,’ the HBO show starring The Rock as a financial manager for NFL players. But I’ve heard mixed reviews.
In a recent episode, the show was zinged for its storyline involving USC and a fictional high school star’s recruitment. Make sure you read SB Nation’s review, but if you’re in a hurry, the show had The Rock managing a kid’s recruitment and in exchange for the kid’s commitment to USC, The Rock asks that USC sell its TV rights to The Rock’s newly-formed media company.
I’m guessing the show’s writers were banking on the audience knowing absolutely nothing about the Pac-12’s TV deal. The show also portrayed USC committing a recruiting violation and then the story went to an even wilder place.
8. The Pac-12 could be eliminated from the College Football Playoff this weekend
Pessimistic? Come on. This is the Pac-12 we’re talking about.
Two games this weekend—UW vs. BYU and Stanford at Notre Dame—will show us what this conference is made of, particularly Stanford’s date with the Fighting Irish. The Irish are using a new quarterback—you might remember him as one-time WSU commit Ian Book—while Stanford is coming off a weekend where it committed larceny.
Lose, and Stanford has an uphill climb to the playoff and will need some help along the way. The Cardinal seem like a borderline playoff team right now. A win against the Irish will help, but they need the dominoes to fall their way the rest of the season, not to mention win the rest of their games, one of which includes a date with UW.
The Washington Huskies can’t lose another game if it wants to make it to the playoff. Auburn’s loss to LSU won’t help UW’s chances, and a loss to surprising BYU will eliminate them entirely.
9. “It has power, that’s for sure.”
That’s a Gardner Minshew quote talking about his mustache. You read that right.
Minshew’s personality has been written about before. He clearly is having fun, as you should when you’re playing your last year of college football.
Also, he asked this:
Best part of interview with @GardnerMinshew5 is at the end he asks @Jill_Savage - 'I have a question for you, are you related to Randy?' #Swag #GoCougs #MachoMan— Yogi Roth (@YogiRoth) September 25, 2018
Tune in tonight to learn more about @WSUCougFB on @Pac12Network #InsidePac12Football
Never change, Gardner.
10. RIP Foster Farms Bowl, Hello Redbox Bowl
The revolving door of bowl game sponsors circled again. This time it’s Redbox, the red thing at your local grocery store that acts as a DVD vending machine, buying the naming rights to the bowl game formerly known as the Foster Farms Bowl.
This bowl game pits the Pac-12 vs. the Big Ten. It’s not one of the higher-attended bowl games and might be even be more of an afterthought this season, as the National Championship will be played at the same venue—Levi’s Stadium—a week later.
For those keeping score at home, that’s two Pac-12-affiliated bowl games with name changes. The Cactus Bowl became the Cheez-It Bowl back in August.