Conference play means separation, and the PAC 12 gave us that this weekend. A few surprising results and some changing tides have led to an increase in projected bowl-eligible teams, but there’s only so many wins to go around. Nine or ten bowl teams means a lot of 6, 7, and 8 win records and very few if any stand-out squads. Fans no doubt hope for their team to be the one that breaks loose.
In the South, the separation seems to have become complete. There are four teams scrambling for a bowl game, one clear frontrunner, and one challenger. USC’s conference schedule continues to soften- there are only two teams left with better than a 20% chance of defeating them. What looked to be a very challenging division slate now doesn’t look like much to write home about- everyone is okay, but there looks to be only one other complete team in the South.
Oregon continues to bump other teams out of the way on their climb to the top after a stronger showing against Cal than any other opponent has managed. WSU’s victory over USC gives them a small chance of going undefeated, but there’s a huge gap between Washington and everyone else. Cal is fighting for their bowl lives, and Oregon State is trying to figure out how to get just one more win this season.
There are six teams with more than a 90% chance of being bowl eligible. Then there’s a group of three hovering around 60% in the South, with ASU and Cal scrambling. Cal’s loss to the Ducks- and the manner in which they lost- is pretty harsh on their bowl hopes.
We’re still ranking 9 teams, but the reality is with Arizona, Colorado, and UCLA all set to have played all but one of their games against each other by October 14, there will be significant separation over the next two weeks.
Oregon is the big winner here, having jumped Stanford and joined the more prestigious bowl group at the top of the conference. WSU still lingers below USC for now- the Trojans have a softer schedule and the Cougars are still projected to finish behind them in the conference standings.
GAME OF THE WEEK
#11 Washington State Cougars at Oregon Ducks
Saturday, October 7 at 5:00 Pacific/6:00 Mountain
This game presents a litmus test for both teams. It’s one thing to get up and play hard for the biggest game in your program’s recent history. It’s quite another to do it again the next week. Oregon, meanwhile, is scrambling to find a solution at quarterback but soundly defeated Cal with defense and a running game last week. The lessons they draw from needing to rely on that blueprint could make them dangerous indeed, when Herbert returns from injury.
Also Watch: Stanford at Utah, Arizona at Colorado