It hasn’t been a season of chalk up to this point in the Pac-12. The conference has two College Football Playoff contenders (Oregon and Utah), but there is no room for error for either team. The Pac-12 also has teams who were downright awful to start the season suddenly becoming world beaters (UCLA and Oregon State).
We’ve seen our own quarterback throw nine touchdown passes....in a loss. We’ve seen two teams start three different quarterbacks. We’ve seen weekly dramas play out at USC. We’ve seen some you-know-what.
So this week we’re doing something different: We’re looking at each team and rating them on a weirdness scale. For our purposes, we’re going in order of the standings, divided by division, because that’s a huge part of the weirdness so far this season.
Had the Ducks held on to their 21-6 lead against Auburn to open the season in front of a national audience, the Ducks would be in line for a College Football Playoff berth. Alas, they had to let a true freshman beat them and got behind the eight ball from the get-go.
But since then, the Ducks are still alive and the conference’s best shot at the playoff. They’ll need to win out (very likely) and beat Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game to have a shot.
Weirdness scale: 2/10 - The two points are solely for that blown lead against Auburn.
Oregon State Beavers
Nobody expected Oregon State to be any good this season, even though it was year 2 of the Jonathan Smith era. But the Beavers are in second place in the North the first week of November? What world is this?
Weirdness scale: 9/10 - Oregon State is in this position with a quarterback who couldn’t win the job at Idaho at one point.
Stanford has endured major injury issues, particularly on offense. They’ve lost a ton of offensive linemen, including standout Walker Little, and have started three quarterbacks. Luckily, it appears K.J. Costello is back and healthy, and it shows.
But they still lost to UCF, a depleted and drama-dominated USC, then came home to beat Washington, then got dominated by UCLA.
At one point it looked like Stanford wouldn’t make a bowl game. Now, don’t be surprised if they win their last four games. Or lose them, either.
Weirdness scale: 7/10 - Which Stanford team will show up each week? Nobody knows!
The Huskies were no. 13 in the preseason top 25. Yeah, about that....
Jacob Eason has a knack for running backwards when he’s pressured, and a weird loss to Cal in the middle of the night foreshadowed the team’s problems. They also got smoked by Stanford and blew leads against Oregon and Utah.
Weirdness scale: 5/10 - Can’t hold a lead, can’t play in the middle of the night.
California Golden Bears
Here’s another team that’s had to use three quarterbacks. That’s bad, because this is a team with a terrible offense even when QB1 is under center. Chase Garbers, who beat UW, gave way to Devin Modster, who then gave way to Spencer Brasch. Modster might be ready for this Saturday against Washington State, but does it even matter? Cal’s offense is No. 113 in SP+.
At one point, Cal was a sexy pick to vault up the standings. Now, not so much.
Weirdness scale: 4/10 - Did anybody really think Cal would consistently win with a lackluster offense?
Washington State Cougars
I don’t have to tell this audience how weird it’s been for Wazzu this season. They’re 4-4 but could easily, maybe should be, 7-1. That inexplicable loss to UCLA was awful. Anthony Gordon threw nine touchdowns in that game! In a loss!
Then came games they probably should have won at Arizona State and Oregon. Sigh.
Weirdness scale: 7/10 - Their defensive coordinator resigned mid-season and I still can’t fathom that UCLA game.
Other than a weird loss at USC early in the season, the Utes have taken care of business. They got a come-from-behind win at Washington last weekend and thanks to Oregon’s win over USC, the Utes are in control in the South.
A Utah-Oregon Pac-12 Championship Game will actually be really interesting. Can’t wait to see how the Pac-12 screws it up!
Weirdness scale: 4/10 - The loss to USC’s third-string quarterback is responsible for all four points.
Talk about drama! We’ve talked about the Trojans’ roller coaster season, but let’s review:
- Clay Helton on the hottest of seats before the season began.
- J.T. Daniels goes down the first game of the season with a season-ending ACL injury.
- The Trojans beat what was then a thought-to-be-good Stanford team in week 2.
- Lynn Swann resigns two days later.
- USC goes to Provo and gets beat by BYU.
- Kedon Slovis goes down, forcing USC to turn to third-string Matt Fink. The panic doesn’t last long, as Fink and the Trojans upset Utah.
- The Trojans lose two straight before getting back on track against Arizona.
- USC survives at Colorado.
- USC gets rolled at home against Oregon, surrendering control in the South.
The Trojans have a new athletic director now (or maybe not!), and Clay Helton’s days are numbered. We’ll see what’s next!
Weirdness scale: 10/10 - See above. ‘Nuff said.
The Bruins were begging fans to come to a game at the Rose Bowl in September. Things were dark. Then it stole a win in Pullman. ‾\_(ツ)_/‾
They then lost to awful Arizona and Oregon State before winning three straight against Stanford, Arizona State and Colorado. ‾\_(ツ)_/‾
Weirdness scale: 10/10 - What’s going on in Los Angeles?
Arizona State Sun Devils
They looked awful at Michigan State, where they won anyway, and got beat the next week by Colorado. They also have a loss to UCLA and probably should have lost to WSU. It’s difficult to put a thumb on this team, but trust Herm Edwards, I guess.
Weirdness scale: 5/10 - They are forgiven for playing a true freshman quarterback (who looks like he could dominate down the road).
Is Kevin Sumlin wasting the talent that is Khalil Tate? Was the defensive coordinator really the problem (partially, yes)? There’s lots of drama in Tucson, yet the Wildcats are still two games away from making a bowl game. With games against Oregon, Utah and Arizona State, it doesn’t look like it’ll happen.
Weirdness scale: 1/10 - There’s still time for the Wildcats to get weird.
The Buffaloes built a lot of goodwill when they beat Nebraska in overtime in a rivalry game at home way back on Sept. 7. They promptly lost to Air Force in overtime the next week. A win over Arizona State seemed to get them back on track, but like last year, the Buffaloes have cratered and some are wondering if they should move on from Steven Montez. Colorado won’t win another game this season.
Weirdness scale: 6/10 - The Buffaloes have teased us the last two seasons. Never again.
Pac-12 Game of the Week
Washington State at Cal
This kind of feels like a must-win game for both teams.