If you believe a three-loss team dashing the best hope for the playoff in five years is the most Pac-12 thing ever, well, we have news for you.
The most Pac-12 thing ever would be a five-loss team that fired its unvaccinated coach in October winning a division title and playing for a Rose Bowl berth.
That’s precisely the situation in the North, where Washington State is two favorable results away from the division crown a mere month after firing Nick Rolovich.
Here’s brief breakdown of the three-team race in the North as the final weekend approaches:
— Oregon wins the division with: a victory over Oregon State.
— Oregon State wins the division with: a victory over Oregon and a Washington State loss to Washington.
— Washington State wins the division with: a victory over Washington and an Oregon State victory over Oregon.
That’s right. If the Cougars win the Apple Cup and the Beavers are triumphant in Autzen Stadium, then a five-loss team without a permanent coach would claim the North and face Utah for a berth in the Rose Bowl.
How in the world? Because with each of the tied teams having a 1-1 record against the others, the No. 2 tiebreaker would kick in: record within the division. WSU would be 4-1 against North teams, while Oregon and Oregon State would be 3-2. Advantage, Cougars.
Even for the Pac-12, that would be next-level nuts.
Tp the power ratings …
(All times Pacific.)
1. Utah (8-3/7-1)
Last week: 2
Result: beat Oregon 38-7
Next up: vs. Colorado (Friday, 1 p.m., FOX)
Line: Utah -24
Comment: No way the Utes would be 10-1 and smack in the middle of the playoff race if they had started Cam Rising from the get-go, right? Nah. They would have lost a second game, somewhere … probably … maybe.
2. Oregon (9-2/6-2)
Last week: 1
Result: lost at Utah 38-7
Next up: vs. Oregon State (12:30 p.m., ESPN)
Line: Oregon -7.5
Comment: National ranking of Oregon’s recruiting classes for the past six years, per 247Sports: 27, 19, 13, 7, 11 and 6. Now, the same for Utah: 37, 33, 33, 42, 30 and 33.
3. Washington State (6-5/5-3)
Last week: 4
Result: beat Arizona 44-18
Next up: at Washington (Friday, 5 p.m., FS1)
Line: WSU -1.5
Comment: We don’t expect him to win, but Jake Dickert is eligible for the Pac-12 Coach of the Year award. (Jonathan Smith and Kyle Whittingham are the heavy favorites at this point.)
4. Oregon State (7-4/5-3)
Last week: 6
Result: beat Arizona State 24-10
Next up: at Oregon (12:30 p.m., ESPN)
Line: OSU +7.5
Comment: Not unreasonable to wonder if the Beavers should have made the defensive coordinator switch (Tim Tibesar out, Trent Bray in) a few weeks earlier.
5. Arizona State (7-4/5-3)
Last week: 3
Result: lost at Oregon State 24-10
Next up: vs. Arizona (1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Line: ASU -20
Comment: The combined record of the six FBS teams the Sun Devils have beaten is a paltry 24-41, and only one of them, UCLA, is over .500. Meanwhile, their record against teams with winning records is 1-4.
6. UCLA (7-4/5-3)
Last week: 5
Result: won at USC 62-33
Next up: vs. Cal (7:30 p.m., FS1)
Line: UCLA -7.5
Comment: One way to look at the Chip Kelly contract situation: Which end-game would UCLA’s division peers prefer? Our guess: They wouldn’t fret over Kelly returning in 2022, especially with defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro in tow.
7. Cal (4-6/3-4)
Last week: 9
Result: won at Stanford 41-11
Next up: at UCLA (7:30 p.m., FS1)
Line: Cal +7.5
Comment: Lots of complaints about Cal’s offense, especially from UW fans hoping the Huskies don’t pursue Justin Wilcox. But the Bears are sixth in the conference in yards per play, and that includes the COVID-impacted game in Tucson.
8. USC (4-6/3-5)
Last week: 7
Result: lost to UCLA 62-33
Next up: vs. Brigham Young (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
Line: USC +7
Comment: If the Trojans prevent BYU from completing its five-game sweep of the Pac-12, never before in history will so many have owed so much to so few. Because otherwise, the conference will never hear the end of it. Ever.
9. Colorado (4-7/3-5)
Last week: 10
Result: beat Washington 20-17
Next up: at Utah (Friday, 1 p.m., FOX)
Line: Colorado +24
Comment: The Hotline fully expects to see CU on the wire early next week with the news that several assistant coaches have been relieved of their duties. This little November uptick isn’t nearly enough to justify the status quo for Karl Dorrell’s staff.
10. Washington (4-7/3-5)
Last week: 8
Result: lost at Colorado 20-17
Next up: vs. Washington State (Friday, 5 p.m., FS1)
Line: Washington +1.5
Comment: An underdog at home in the Apple Cup? Oh, the indignity. (Actually, we think the matchups lean slightly in UW’s favor this week, but don’t tell WSU fans. They might become … indignant.)
11. Arizona (1-10/1-7)
Last week: 12
Result: lost at Washington State 44-18
Next up: at Arizona State (1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Line: Arizona +20
Comment: It took all season, but the Wildcats finally moved out of the Hotline cellar. That says something about their resolve through all the losing. It also says so much about Stanford.
12. Stanford (3-8/2-7)
Last week: 11
Result: lost to Cal 41-11
Next up: vs. Notre Dame (5 p.m., FOX)
Line: Notre Dame -17
Comment: If the longest losing streak since the Walt Harris era isn’t enough to convince David Shaw that staff changes are needed, then nothing will. For anyone else, mass firings would be a no-brainer given the abysmal product on the field.