Well, well, well...what a telling week in the Pac-12. After weeks of half guessing/half assuming we knew which teams were tops in the league, the truth came out finally this past Saturday. Oh how it was reveled...
Oregon lost in OT at home to a very tough Stanford team. We learned that no matter how good Oregon has been up to now, they are NOT as good as first thought and not the first or second best team in the land. Indeed...just like their experience with Ohio State in 2009, Auburn in 2010 and LSU in 2011...Oregon has difficulty with teams that field very big, very strong and fast offensive and defensive lines. Stanford has those. It was the difference in the game. That and, well, Oregon just does not have a place kicker it can trust to make normal field goals in the 35-45 yard range. If they did, they'd have won despite how everything else went. Oh well.
Meanwhile, the myth of USC's return to greatness came crashing down this weekend too as they were finally revealed for the middle of the pack (vs. just unlucky) team through their defeat to UCLA. That's right. UCLA. Sure, USC lost earlier in the season to Stanford and Oregon, but for sure they were going to and should have beat UCLA. They could not.
UCLA has put themselves into position to finally - FINALLY - move out of the "pretender" category and into contedor or champion category with a win vs. Stanford next week and an appearance in the league title game.
And finally, Stanford revealed that they may indeed be the best team in the league. Who would have thought that a few weeks ago when they were a mess and losing to UW?
Pac-12 BCS Situation
Oregon's loss to Stanford virtually eliminates any Pac-12 team from getting into the National Title game. There's a slim, slim chance that if the now #5 Oregon finishes with just the one loss they may re-enter the running for the #2 spot in that game if others ahead of them lose. But that's really unlikely. Oregon could reach the Rose Bowl if they get some help from UCLA next weekend and the Bruins beat Stanford in LA. That would put the Ducks back into the Pac-12 title game (assuming UO can beat Oregon State next weekend too). Win that and their back in the Rose Bowl. And finally, if Oregon wins against the Beavers but does not make it to the Pac-12 title game because Stanford beats UCLA...the Ducks would still be highly ranked and with only one loss. It could be that one of the other BCS Bowls (Sugar, Fiesta, Orange) pick Oregon to play in their game. Not bad.
UCLA has already won the Pac-12 South. They are in the league title game Nov. 30. Win that and they are in the Rose Bowl. That's their shot at the BCS games.
Stanford can get into that Pac-12 title game if they beat UCLA next Saturday. Do that and then win the title game and they are in the Rose Bowl. That's their shot at the BCS games.
Pac-12 Week 12 Predictions
Games this week are spread across Friday and Saturday. The games Friday will serve as an appetizer for the big, league-defining games on Saturday.
Below, I've listed the Saturday games in order that they will appear on TV in Pacific time. You can see that if you have the day free, you can watch the conference standings finalize right before your very eyes.
Washington vs. WSU in Pullman (Friday). UW is playing well and they are clearly better than WSU. Like the Civil War in Oregon, the Apple Cup usually features weirdness. I think the only weird thing that will happen this year is the WSU will actually hang around in the first half, but in the end UW wins. UW 27-WSU 17.
Arizona vs. ASU in Tempe (Friday). Also-rans jockey for bowl position. Home team wins. ASU 41-UA 38.
Utah vs. Colorado in Boulder (Friday). Like a couple broken down old horses that need to taken back behind a barn and put out of their misery, the Utes and Buffs will wind down their 2012 season in this final game. Utah will win it. UU 27-CU 10.
Oregon vs. Oregon State in Corvallis (Saturday at 12 p.m.). First up on Saturday is the Civil War. Grab your lunch and a cold one and settle in for the first of three critical games. If the Ducks win, they still have a chance at the league title game and/or a BCS game at-large. If the Beavers win, the Ducks are out of the BCS mix completely. Hello Alamo Bowl. The Beavers are playing well and the game is in their stadium. They also have great wide receivers a la USC. But, the Ducks are coming off their one loss and should be angry and looking for redemption. And hey, they are still Oregon. I'm going to say that Oregon rebounds and pulls out a win 34-28.
Stanford vs. UCLA in L.A. (Saturday at 3:30 p.m.) OK, you just watched the Ducks win the Civil War (that's what I predicted afer all, right?), and now you're ready to see if Stanford can kill the Ducks chances for the league title and grab the glory for themselves with a win. Time to break out the mid-afternoon snacks.With the South already sewn up, will UCLA "show up" or roll over? Either way, I think Stanford is the better team and will be motivated to nail down their appearance in the Pac-12 title game. They win. Stanford 28-UCLA 21. If things go the way I've predicted here, you'll then have a Stanford vs. UCLA re-match in Palo Alto the following weekend to determine the Pac-12 champ. The winner would go to the Rose Bowl. Oregon would then just have to wait a couple weeks to see if one of the other BCS bowl games picks them...and if they don't, again, hello Alamo Bowl.
USC vs. Notre Dame in L.A. (Saturday at 5 p.m.) And then finally, as the Stanford/UCLA game enters it's later stages, you can start to check in on this one to see if Notre Dame can stay undefeated and confirm their participation in the National Championship game or if they finally falter to a ticked off USC squad. I would have said "this is the game where ND loses." But, given how poorly USC has played recently, I now think the "Domers" will win this game. I say ND 22-USC 14.
NOTE: Cal has finished its season. They clocked in at 3-9 overall and 2-7 in league play. No bowl. See you in 2013.