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.
Fair warning: Half of this post covers the Washington State Cougars’ wild win over the Oregon State Beavers. Not because the rest of the Pac-12 was a dud, but because Saturday’s game in Pullman was that crazy. Plus, a coach stormed into the radio booth after the game.
After going over some highlights from the heart attack-inducing win, we touch on Arizona State’s wild win over the Oregon Ducks, the cannibalistic Pac-12, and Clay Helton’s brown nose.
1. Oregon State scored 29 points in the fourth quarter and still lost
That’s incredible. The goose egg the Beavers put up in the third quarter sure was helpful for our Cougs. But if I awoke from a coma and was told only that Oregon State scored 29 points in the the fourth quarter, I’d assume the Cougs got stomped, knowing this defense. Of course, that was only one weird part of this game.
2. WSU gave up the ball five times—five!—and still won
So you’re telling me that not only did the WSU defense give up 29 points in the fourth quarter, but it gave up the ball five times? And still won? What deal with the devil did we make?
3. Washington State has lost this season when scoring 63 points and won when giving up 53
I have nothing more to say. I’m speechless.
4. Eric Mele invaded the WSU radio booth to express his love for Max Borghi
If you were like me and could only follow the game via radio, you probably heard running backs coach Eric Mele scream “Massamilanoooooo!! Viva Italia!!” after the clock hit zero. Mele charged into the radio booth, which is right next to the coaches booth, to share the love.
Mele’s excitement was incredible. It’s like when you’re so happy you just want to hug whoever is nearby, stranger or not. We’ve all been there, perhaps as recently as Saturday night.
5. In a little more than five minutes, WSU went from being up 10 points to being down 11 points
Wazzu scored with 9:52 remaining to go up 42-32, only to see Oregon State fight back to take a 53-42 lead with 4:17 remaining. The Beavers looked to be on their way to a bowl game. Jokes on them!
6. Speaking of Oregon State’s bowl hopes, they are....not good
Talk about brutal: Oregon State will finish in second place in the Pac-12 North and will still miss out on a bowl game, should they lose to Oregon this weekend. Yikes.
(h/t to Jesse for pointing that out)
Heading into this season, the Beavers had only won 14 games since their last trip to a bowl game in 2013. Their offense looked legitimate this season, but that defense, man. Better luck next year!
OK, let’s see what’s going on with the rest of the league....
7. Good job, Pac-12. We did it.
This really is something.
8. Arizona State is back from the dead
I dumped on the Arizona State Sun Devils last week, recognizing how they’ve fallen off a cliff. Lo and behold, they go out and beat what was the Pac-12’s best shot at the College Football Playoff.
They did so even after the Ducks scored two touchdowns a little more than two minutes apart to cut ASU’s lead to 24-21. The Ducks were rolling, and ASU was deep in its own territory with a true freshman at quarterback and the nation’s eyes on Tempe.
So what does Jayden Daniels do? He connects with Brandon Aiyuk for a 75-yard touchdown to give ASU a 10-point lead. The Ducks would get back within three, but that’s it.
Jayden Daniels is going to be a star, and he rescued the Sun Devils on Saturday.
9. With the loss, Oregon’s playoff chances went out the window
Did we really think the Oregon Ducks were one of the top four teams in the nation? No, we did not, but they were the league’s best hope at some Pac-12 recognition.
10. Utah is now the Pac-12’s only hope at a playoff berth
If the Utah Utes win out, they’ll be 12-1 and would have the College Football Playoff committee’s attention. Utah should be rooting for LSU to win the SEC championship and for the Auburn Tigers to upset the Alabama Crimson Tide. That ensures the Crimson Tide (and their fans) have no reason to yell and scream about Utah’s resume compared to Alabama’s.
I know it might be difficult for many of us, but for the good of this thing we call a conference....[plugs nose]....Go Utes.
11. Cal takes the axe, finally
Washington State’s six-year Apple Cup drought is bad, but it’s not the worst in the conference. Well, it is now, but follow along. The California Golden Bears finally beat the Stanford Cardinal. Sure, Stanford’s injury list is as long as the Magna Carta, but a win is a win.
Cal deserves this, and not because it had been so long. The Bears started the season with four straight wins, including ones over UW and Ole Miss. Then their quarterbacks kept getting hurt and the wheels started falling off with four straight losses (Arizona State, Oregon, Oregon State and Utah). Then our Cougs were generous enough to get them back in the win column before USC crushed them two weeks ago.
The win over Stanford means Cal is going bowling for the second year in a row.
12. Clay Helton is a desperate man
By now, I feel sorry for Clay Helton of the USC Trojans. He’s 8-4 with a win over Utah and the Trojans are in the Top 25. He’s done this without J.T. Daniels at quarterback, and at one point had to go to third string Matt Fink (who beat Utah!).
But 8-4 isn’t good enough at USC, and it shouldn’t be. There’s been so much drama in Los Angeles, and now with a new athletic director, Helton is doing all he can to be a good employee:
Clay Helton awarded a game ball to president Carol Folt yesterday. And to Mike Bohn. Whatever he is, he's a good politician #USC— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) November 24, 2019
Good luck Clay!
Pac-12 Game of the Week
Oregon State at Oregon
Simple: The Beavs need the upset to make a bowl game, and the Ducks need a good showing ahead of the Pac-12 Championship Game. A Duck win would also make a Utah win in Santa Clara on Dec. 6 look a little better.