A couple of games in the books last weekend- one PAC 12 team embarrassed their opponent, the other one was embarrassed themselves. There’s not really much movement in these metrics this week. Win projections are generated using G.A.W.P. (learn more here), and then those projections and old-fashioned analysis are combined to rank the teams for bowl games.
The South division is tidy at the top at a hot mess everywhere else. Five teams have at least a 60% chance of winding up with records between 5-7 and 7-5, and they all play each other (which has career-altering implications for three coaches in particular). USC is the team to beat, and the only one with a genuine shot at a playoff-caliber record. It’s early yet, though- that could change.
In the North, there’s a bit more gradation. Washington was the class of league going into the season, and Stanford has announced emphatically that they intend to make as much trouble as possible. Oregon and WSU look to play spoiler and maybe have an outside shot at the division crown. Cal and Oregon State are going to struggle to pick up wins in conference.
There are two main story lines in the preseason bowl projections-
First, the PAC 12 doesn’t have a guaranteed NY6 bowl spot. The Rose Bowl is in the CFP rotation this season, and it’s possible that the PAC 12 could have to settle for an at-large bid in a less prestigious bowl.
Second, one, two, or all three of the bottom few teams will fall out of the running in the first few weeks of the season. The squabble at the bottom for at large bid spots is because those three teams should be bad, not good.
Key Game This Week
Colorado Buffaloes vs. Colorado State Rams
Friday, September 1 at 5:00 Pacific/6:00 Mountain
PAC 12 Network
Most of the games in the conference this week are pretty lousy and lopsided, but this one is anyone but. A rout of Oregon State has created some buzz around the Rams, and the rivalry between these two teams continues to be bitter and contentious. Colorado is a bit of an enigma this season, introducing uncertainty into a game which is loaded with intriguing storylines. Definitely one to watch.
Also watch- UCLA vs. Texas A&M, Cal @ UNC