The Huskies earned their Rose Bowl berth, but a Pac-12 championship game played in front of a half-empty Levi's Stadium did nothing to improve the conference's perception nationally.
It look fewer than three hours to determine the Pac-12 champion, and that was generally the positive takeaway from the Huskies’ 10-3 win over Utah. The conference already has a perception problem nationally, and its defensive slog of title game — with no College Football Playoff implications to boot — didn’t appear to do it any favors.
The (Utah) Deseret News columnist Brad Rock maligns the lack of offense from the Utes.
“The problem that has been tugging at the Utes much of the year returned. The defense did its part. The offense did its thing — it stalled. … For more excitement, please find the plumbing supply section of your weekly mailer. … This shouldn’t have been a surprise. Utah has shown a tendency to idle. Besides that, the game featured the conference’s stingiest defenses.”
Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson says the Utes deserve better than what they’re destined for after a title game defeat.
“The Utes will go where they’re welcomed. But they’ve earned something a little beyond the Sun. They were on the verge of heading to Pasadena, and came up a touchdown short, a weird off-the-hands, off-the-leg, into-the-air, into-the-hands-of-a-Husky-defensive-back pick-6 that should not bounce them all the way from the Rose, through the Alamo, through the Holiday, through the Redbox, to a bowl game on the edge of the Rio Grande in West Freaking Texas.”
The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel wonders how the Pac-12 fell so far.
“It seemed only fitting that the Pac-12’s lost, lonely season would culminate with a sea of boos. … Not that there’s anything wrong with an old-fashioned defensive struggle. But it’s probably not a coincidence that the first Power 5 championship game in a decade in which both teams were 9-3 or worse produced the lowest-scoring of the 116 conference title games played to date.
And it’s also not a coincidence that Friday’s game drew the smallest crowd since the Pac-12 moved to a neutral site in 2014, given both teams sat outside of the committee’s Top 25 as recently as a few weeks ago. In college football, in 2018, the stakes just feel lower now when there are no Playoff possibilities.
On a positive note, the game was over in less than three hours.”
At Deadspin, Gabe Fernandez writes that the Pac-12 championship game ended in a justified shower of boos.
“Depending on who you are as a person, you either saw last night’s match up as a defensive masterclass, or a tale of two terribly mediocre offenses. But the most likely scenario is that you didn’t see the game at all. … in a beautiful moment that displayed two fan bases putting aside their differences to unite under a common cause, Huskies fans joined in on the jeers during the trophy presentation. The ire drawn from the announced crowd of 35,134—the smallest crowd since the conference moved to a neutral site in 2014, per The Athletic—was directed towards Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. It was arguably the loudest the sparse crowd was all night. … who could blame anyone for booing? The game sucked, tickets sold for embarrassingly low prices and the most impressive thing anyone in the stadium saw on Friday was the obnoxiously large flag during the anthem. The only upside was that the game lasted less than three hours.”
SBNation’s Megan Moriarty says the title game may have been ‘so ugly,’ but that Washington is a deserving Rose Bowl team.
“Losing two league games in October to rebound with four straight wins in November is one way to make a lasting impression. The Huskies also had five games with 87 percent or better S&P+ percentile performances (think of this as a single-game performance review). Having the eighth-ranked defense per S&P+ doesn’t hurt, either, and the Huskies’ unit lived up to that hype on Friday night, especially with controlling the pace of this game. Utah had the ball for just 21:28, compared to Washington’s 38:32.”
SEC blog Saturday Down South dunks on the Pac-12’s lack of attendance.
“If there was excitement for the Pac-12 championship game, it wasn’t reflected in the crowd turnout, at least by kickoff. Multiple pictures from the press box in Santa Clara, California showed a paltry turnout for Utah and Washington to decide the Pac-12, and a Rose Bowl berth. … It’s safe to say this will likely be the smallest crowd of conference championship weekend.”