Call it what you will — the Conference of Cannibals, the Conference of Parity, the Conference of Parody — but the Pac-12 has been without an undefeated team for two Saturdays.
The list of unbeatens across the Power Five:
ACC: Clemson and Wake Forest
Big 12: Baylor and Oklahoma
Big Ten: Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Minnesota
SEC: Florida, Georgia, Alabama and LSU
Which brings us to The Hotline Hypothetical of the Week (or THHOTW, as it’s not-commonly known).
Could the Pac-12 be out of one-loss teams before the other Power Fives are out of no-loss teams?
At the moment, the conference has four one-loss teams: Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Oregon.
The earliest we could reasonably expect all four to carry a second loss is the first Saturday of November:
Oregon loses at Washington
Arizona loses at USC
ASU loses at Utah
Utah loses at Washington
There are other scenarios, of course, including one in which each team has at least two losses at the close of business on Oct. 19 and another in which the conference carries multiple one-loss teams deep into November.
But we’ll use Nov. 2 as the date for the one-loss mass extinction.
At that point, Alabama and one of LSU/Georgia/Florida should be undefeated in the SEC.
The Wisconsin-Ohio State winner, and quite possibly Minnesota, will be undefeated in the Big Ten.
Clemson, and perhaps Wake Forest, should be unbeaten in the ACC.
Oklahoma, if it beats Texas, and perhaps Baylor will be undefeated in the Big 12.
So yes, it’s entirely possible that the Pac-12 will have no one-loss teams left when every other Power Five will still have at least one unbeaten.
For a point of reference, consider the current look of the AFC South.
To the power ratings …
1. Oregon (4-1, 2-0)
Last week: 1
Result: Beat Cal 17-7
Next up: vs. Colorado (Friday)
Imagine how dominant the Ducks would be when all facets are firing. But first, try to imagine all facets firing.
2. Arizona State (4-1, 1-1)
Last week: 3
Next up: vs. Washington State
Visit by Washington State and trip to UCLA look far less challenging than they did prior to the season. But the trip to Oregon State and visit by Arizona look more daunting. The scale stays balanced.
3. Utah (4-1, 1-1)
Last week: 4
Next up: at Oregon State
Late November trip to Tucson couldn’t possibly be for the division title, right?
4. Washington (4-2, 1-2)
Last week: 2
Result: Lost at Stanford 23-13
Next up: at Arizona
We’re not prepared to conclude the Huskies have systemic issues after one dreary performance. But check back Saturday at 11ish.
5. USC (3-2, 2-1)
Last week: 5
Next up: at Notre Dame
All that talk about the brutal opening month? Well, Fresno State, Stanford, BYU, Utah and Washington are a combined 15-11.
6. Arizona (4-1, 2-0)
Last week: 8
Result: Won at Colorado 35-30
Next up: vs. Washington
Yes, the Wildcats are 2-0 and atop the South, but it’s entirely possible that they opened with the two worst teams in the conference.
7. Colorado (3-2, 1-1)
Last week: 6
Result: Lost to Arizona 35-30
Next up: at Oregon (Friday)
From the department of they-are-what-we-thought-they-were: The Buffaloes are 122nd nationally in pass efficiency defense.
8. Stanford (3-3, 2-2)
Last week: 10
Result: Beat Washington 23-13
Next up: Open (then vs. UCLA)
That three-game losing streak? Just flesh wounds. The Cardinal apparently has plenty of fight left.
9. Cal (4-2, 1-2)
Last week: 7
Result: Lost at Oregon 17-7
Next up: Open
We’re judging the Bears not on what they were under Chase Garbers or on what they might become once Devon Modster gains more experience … but on what they are right now.
10. Washington State (3-2, 0-2)
Last week: 9
Next up: at Arizona State
Good news: The defense cannot get any worse under the interim co-coordinators. Better news: Even a slight improvement could spark a rapid recovery — we’re still buyers of the Anthony Gordon Air Raid.
11. Oregon State (2-3, 1-1)
Last week: 12
Result: Won at UCLA 48-31
Next up: vs. Utah
Oregon State has the same number of wins in 2+ seasons under Jonathan Smith as UCLA does under Chip Kelly, for about half the cost.
12. UCLA (1-5, 1-2)
Last week: 11
Result: Lost to Oregon State 48-31
Next up: Open (then at Stanford)
We hear Mick Cronin likes his depth.