Total chaos took over the conference last week, and it cost the PAC 12 on the national scene- no team is now favored to finish the season with 1 or fewer losses. That means a playoff berth is unlikely, bowl slots are down, and we’re looking at a dog-fight for dwindling resources in this crazy conference.
Arizona has aggressively announced their intention to play spoiler in the South with back-to-back impressive performances from Khalil Tate (who Utah fans are probably glad their team didn’t have to play). Utah’s projections have taken a hit after back-to-back losses, but expect their quarterback to return and change the expectation moving forward. USC has a commanding lead in this division, but only an outside shot at double-digit regular season wins.
0s all the way down the 12-0 and Washington and WSU both took shocking defeats this week. Washington still looks like a good team, but WSU has been exposed twice now, which doesn’t bode well for their long term prospects as they hit the toughest part of their schedule. Stanford, meanwhile, has rounded into typical form and has a legitimate shot of winning out in the conference and heading to the championship game ahead of Washington.
There are seven teams with more than a 90% chance of being bowl eligible. ASU, Cal, and UCLA are still scrambling for spots. The bottom has dropped out for Colorado, who now has better than even odds of going 5-7… or worse.
The big news is we’re not projecting a playoff team any more. The schedules the top teams face are brutally tough in the second half, and all are likely to take at least one more loss which will more or less eliminate them from contention. Stanford has a better shot at 10-2 than USC does, but we’re putting the Trojans ahead of the Cardinal because of the dominant head to head win.
A crucial component in the lack of playoff teams is the difficult out-of-conference game that looms for two of the contenders. USC takes on Notre Dame this week, and Stanford faces the Irish at the end of the season. Neither is heavily favored at present against what looks like a really good football team, but wins there will dramatically improve the conference’s playoff (or at least two at-large bid) hopes.
GAME OF THE WEEK
#11 USC Trojans at #13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Saturday, October 20 at 4:30 Pacific/5:30 Mountain
This is a huge matchup with national and conference implications. Both of these teams still control their own playoff destiny, but having already taken a loss it’s likely that the loser on Saturday is out of the running. After a rough start to the out-of-conference slate for the conference, USC needs to bring in this quality win and keep the PAC 12 in the public eye. It’s not just their own playoff hopes on the line, here- the conference needs this W.
Also Watch: Oregon at UCLA (it won’t be good but it will be fun)
Arizona at Cal (all eyes on UA to spoil USC’s run to the title game)