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.
Pretty uneventful week for the Pac-12. I mean, there weren’t any athletic directors resigning, which made things pretty vanilla for the most part. This week, we’re looking at the new and improved Pac-12, its first venture into acknowledging its refs screwed up, USC’s glass case of emotion, and more.
1. Six Pac-12 teams are in the AP Top 25. Is the Pac-12 good again?
It’s decent, let’s say. Sure, the Pac-12 has the same amount of ranked teams as the SEC, but five of the SEC’s six ranked teams are all in the top 10, while the Utah Utes are the only Pac-12 team in the top 10—and they’re right at no. 10.
A pessimist might also point out that Arizona State and Cal might not actually be top 25 worthy. I mean, did the Sun Devils impress you in that ugly win at Michigan State? Is Cal only riding its upset win at Washington?
And an optimist might chime in with the fact that two other Pac-12 teams—the USC Trojans and Stanford Cardinal—were once in the Top 25. That’s eight Pac-12 teams ranked at some point this season.
What does this all mean? Not much, at least not yet. There’s a lot of season to be played.
2. The Pac-12 publicly acknowledged a major officiating mistake
When the Pac-12 announced this summer an effort to heal its wounded officiating reputation, part of the new process included the conference explaining game-deciding calls and no-calls from its officiating crews. Last Saturday night, with a Pac-12 crew doing the ASU-MSU game, we got our first look at that effort.
After Arizona State’s weird victory over Michigan State—in which the Spartans’ second game-tying field goal attempt shanked badly after having too many men on the field on the fist attempt, which was good—the Internet pointed out that ASU should have been flagged for leaping over the line of scrimmage:
Sorry to be a narc, but Arizona State 100% should've been flagged 15 yards for leaping on that missed field goal. MSU should've gotten a re-kick pic.twitter.com/kBJAkMMJLo— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) September 14, 2019
The conference took note and released this statement Saturday night. There are still issues with the league’s officiating and transparency, but give credit where credit is due.
3. USC: Not great anymore!
The roller coaster continues. First, the season was lost when J.T. Daniels went out. Then, Kedon Slovis saved the season in an impressive win over Stanford. And now? Now the Trojans are coming off a loss to the BYU Cougars. The USC defense was awful in stretches, and Slovis showed that he’s capable of playing like a true freshman.
And apparently USC fans are totally OK with the loss:
I haven't heard from a #USC fan yet today who is angered by the result of today's game . . . win by losing— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 15, 2019
4. Is USC vs. Utah the South championship game?
This would have been a better question before USC lost in overtime at BYU, but Friday’s tilt in Los Angeles could still decide the South winner. Maybe Arizona State and Colorado would like a word, but this seems like Utah’s biggest test in the South.
The Trojans didn’t look good against BYU, but they still can be explosive. We’ll see. Maybe the North teams can help the rest of the South out and knock Utah off the ledge.
5. Hey, speaking of Utah, the Cougs are Ute fans on Friday
Why? Because a Utah win over USC and a WSU win over UCLA should force ESPN to bring College GameDay to Salt Lake City for the teams’ tilt on Sept. 28. That’d be two seasons in a row a WSU game was a College GameDay location, and third time ever.
Right now, the biggest competition is Virginia-Notre Dame, but with Notre Dame being one of the teams featured at this week’s GameDay location (the Irish play at Georgia in a big one), I find it hard to believe ESPN would go to South Bend next weekend.
One wild card that I’m irrationally worried about: Ohio State-Nebraska. Should Nebraska beat Illinois this weekend (they should), they might—I stress might—creep into the Top 25. The Cornhuskers aren’t currently receiving votes, but weirder things have happened.
6. The NCAA banned Reggie Bush from being on the USC sideline, but that’s where he’ll be Friday night
Bush is part of FS1’s coverage of the USC-Utah game Friday, and the pregame broadcast crew will do its show from the Coliseum field. Despite being axed from any association with USC, Bush will be allowed to be there Friday because he’s in his work role:
Reggie Bush CAN be on the Fox set and I assume sideline Friday night after being permanently disassociated from the school by NCAA. (reason: in work capacity) What an emotional scene that will be.— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) September 16, 2019
Kind of a weird situation all around, don’t you think?
7. The Mountain West Conference is picking on its big brother
Sure, the Pac-12 can boast this week about having six teams ranked, but the Mountain West Conference is doing all it can to change the narrative.
The Mountain West has four wins against Pac-12 opponents this season, with Hawaii getting two of them. Throw in former Mountain West team BYU and its victory over USC, and the number is five wins. Yeah, the Pac-12 has five wins over MWC teams and BYU of its own, but four losses to teams from the G6 conference on the west coast isn’t good.
8. This Tyrese Ross hit should be played on loop at WSU’s special teams meetings
BRUH ??? I just witnessed a homicide— 1st Team All Common Sense (@MrRoscoes) September 14, 2019
Six seconds of violence, indeed.
9. Whoever supplies the graphics and video to the Pac-12 Networks’ Twitter account needs to double check their work
First, the account teased the Oregon State-Cal Poly game.....by promoting Oklahoma State fans:
Then, the account showed WSU playing two games next weekend, including the Apple Cup:
Not a good few days for the account.
Pac-12 Game of the Week
Duh. It’s Utah at USC.