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UW's loss to Stanford puts WSU in the driver's seat

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The Cougs control their own destiny.

NCAA Football: Stanford at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

With the Washington Huskies' loss to the Stanford Cardinal last night, the Pac-12 North just got wild.

Here are the standings as of this morning:

Right now, Stanford has one more conference game to play, while UW and WSU both have two.

So, with a hat tip to Craig for explaining this to me, here are the ways each team wins the division:

  • WSU: Wins out
  • Stanford: Beats Cal and needs WSU to lose once
  • UW: Beats Utah and WSU and needs Stanford to lose to Cal

As you can see, your Washington State Cougars are the only team that controls its own destiny, but it's a daunting task.

(Yes, I know these aren't the only possibilities, but they're simple and the most plausible right now. If Stanford, UW and WSU all finish at 6-3 in conference play, that triggers all sorts of weirdness, and that's still not the only other possible scenario.)

This chaos is fun to watch and keeps WSU's title hopes alive, but a cynic might mention that it dries up the playoff revenue stream that comes to Pac-12 teams.

The conference's playoff hopes just went up in flames. Sure, USC still has a nine percent chance, which is more than UW's three percent chance, Stanford's two percent chance and WSU's one percent chance (this is all from FiveThirtyEight).

So, I guess the Pac-12 isn't totally shut out of the playoff. But you can stop holding dates on your calendar for a trip to the semis.

Whether the Pac-12 getting a team to the playoff matters to you or not, it's fair to ask, why did this all happen? Well, maybe the Pac-12 is having a down year. Or, maybe the conference's TV deal played a role:

LARRY!

This is all a preamble to today's game at Utah. Win, and the Cougs play for the North in the Apple Cup again. Lose, and while they're not eliminated, their path just got a lot harder.

Luke Falk will be playing near his hometown today, and he'll have lots of family and friends there to watch. Will we see the Falk we saw last week? Or will we see the Falk that we saw two weeks ago in Tucson?

Mike Leach returns to the state that gave him his college degree, and he'll be coaching against his fellow BYU alum in Kyle Whittingham.

The Cougs are in a good spot this late in the season. They're 8-2 and control their own destiny. They were in the same spot last year with two games to play, and we all know how that went.

Let's hope things are different this year. The Pac-12 North is at stake.

Gabe Marks has a website

Everybody's favorite quote launched a new website. Gabe Marks is the co-founder along with former Coug Parker Henry. Jed Collins is also a contributor.

The site will focus on sports but will weave in politics, pop culture, social issues and more.

We've all heard Marks talk about these things in news conferences and on Twitter. Here's to hoping this site is a success.

Links

Football

Two minute drill: Keys to victory for Washington State against Utah | The Spokesman-Review
Theo Lawson’s keys for a possible Washington State victory over Utah on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Plenty of storylines to keep an eye on as Washington State, Utah gear up for Pac-12 battle | The Spokesman-Review
Leach talking about Falk: “About every member of his family I met his great. I hope he successfully ignores them until after the game and remembers that they’ll love him a little bit more if we beat Utah instead of lose to them.”

The pick: Why Washington State will beat Utah | The Spokesman-Review
Theo is 8-2 when picking WSU. Yes, he's picked WSU in every game.

Playing to honor his mother, Cougars WR Tay Martin has found a home at WSU | The Seattle Times
Tay Martin plays like he needs football, because he does. Football kept him going during the hardest year of his life, when his father was sent to prison and he lost his mother unexpectedly.

Kragthorpe: Can Washington State’s Luke Falk beat a Whittingham-coached team, for once? - The Salt Lake Tribune
Luke Falk once lost to Kyle Whittingham's brother.

After finding itself last week, Utah’s offense faces a stiff test from No. 19 Washington State - The Salt Lake Tribune
Here's the view from the other side.

Biggest question mark down the stretch for Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia Bulldogs and the Top 25
ESPN touches on WSU's rushing offense, which is last in the Pac-12 at 85.7 yards per game.

Volleyball

Volleyball Claims 3-0 Win over California - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
Sweep! The Cougs are 15-12 overall but just 4-11 in the Pac-12.

Women's Basketball

Cougs Drop Their Season Opener at UC Davis - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
The Cougs shot just 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Veterans Day

It's Veterans Day, and being an Air Force brat, I wanted to briefly acknowledge the sacrifices made by those who have served and those who currently serve, including PJ of the CougCenter crew.

The sacrifices the service members and their families make is astounding. I was lucky to be born after my parents had toured much of the west already, but others experience more elementary schools than I have WSU t-shirts.

SportsCenter played the video above, much like is has the past few Veterans Days. It came on after the Stanford-UW game, and while my wife was asleep, I swear someone was in the kitchen cutting onions. I'm still searching for that person.

Happy Veterans Day, and thanks to the men and women—and their families—that protect us here and abroad.