Final Pac-12 Action - and Standings

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By Clay Kallam, Staff Writer
Posted Nov 30, 2016
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2016 BearInsider.com


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Though Cal fans may still cling to the faint hopes of a bowl berth, the biggest question in the Pac-12 is whether or not Washington will get into the College Football Playoff. 

Though Cal fans may still cling to the (very) faint hopes of a bowl berth, the biggest question in the Pac-12 is whether or not Washington will get into the College Football Playoff. Of course, the Huskies have to beat Colorado this weekend, and that’s no given, but they also have to navigate the minefield of the committee deciding whether or not a one-loss conference champion is better than a two-loss nonconference champion that just happened to beat both of the teams that are playing for the championship.

The other bowl slots will fall into place, and none of them really generate much excitement except for the fans involved. But for coaches and players, bowl games are a tremendous boost, not only for pride in recruiting, but also for that extra month or so of practice. That is invaluable and irreplaceable, and perhaps the biggest reward for teams that reach the postseason in college football.

North

Washington: The Huskies left no doubt against Washington State, and made it that much harder for the committee to ignore their claim for Final Four status. It was 28-3 after one quarter, in Pullman, and you really can’t ask for much more than that. The final was 45-17 and Washington simply dominated the game, outgaining the cougars by 176 yards. And those comments about Jake Browning’s arm strength? 21 of 29 for 292 yards and three touchdowns should pretty much erase any question marks about his status as an elite college quarterback.

Washington State: It was an odd season for the Cougars, with eight wins bracketed at either end by two losses – and the first two were to Eastern Washington and Boise State. Losing to Colorado and Washington to end the season was a little more understandable, but still the way those losses occurred won’t lead to a comfortable winter in chilly Eastern Washington. Just as against Colorado, the Cougars got manhandled by Washington, a superior team, and despite having the home-field advantage for the Apple Cup, this one was over early. Luke Falk struggled, the rushing game was nonexistent and now all that Washington State can hope for is a bowl win to erase the bitter aftertaste of these last two defeats.

Stanford: As someone pointed out, doesn’t rice go soft when it gets wet? Apparently that’s true, as Saturday’s rain led to a wilted performance by the Owls, though they were definitely overmatched by the powerful Cardinal. Stanford dominated the game on both sides of the ball and as a fully healthy Christian McCaffrey does, Christian McCaffrey made everyone around him look good. Keller Chryst had a nice game, running and passing, and Stanford tuned up for a relatively high level bowl game with an easy win in a season-ending game that really made no sense from the scheduling standpoint.

Oregon State: There was a time that Oregon’s advanced passing attack was the marvel of the college football world, but Oregon State went back to basics – and Ryan Nall – in a 34-24 come-from-behind win in the Civil War. Nall ran for 155 yards and four touchdowns, and it’s notable that his longest gain was just 14 yards. Quarterback Marcus McMaryion didn’t hurt the team, and the defense did a good job on third downs and did not allow a touchdown in the last 26:43. All in all, it was a good way to end a desultory season.

California: The game started slowly on both sides, but once Cal got it going, it seemed like UCLA lost interest in the project. Cal’s defense asserted itself for maybe the first time this season, and the offense did its usual thing. Davis Webb and Chad Hansen are perhaps the deadliest pass catch combo in all the land, and the sputtering Bruin offense was no match. Cal does have flickering hopes of a bowl bid, but most likely this was it for the year, and it actually was a pretty good way to go out, all things considered.

Oregon: it’s hard to believe that this program was at the top of the national heap not that long ago, as now it looks just like an ordinary team playing in the rain. Losing to Oregon State is always bad for Eugene residents, but blowing a lead, disappearing on offense in the second half, and generally rolling over after the season went south is not a good sign. Mark Helfrich’s job is clearly on the line, and his last performance certainly didn’t help his status.

South

Colorado: When Mark McIntyre made it happen at San Jose State – a doomsday destination for most coaches – it shouldn’t really have been that surprising that he was able to make things happen so quickly at Colorado. After all, the Buffaloes have a great tradition from their days in the Big 12, and once McIntyre got the wheels turning, the momentum was pretty hard to stop. Of course, there was a little luck involved in the win over Utah last week, as teams really can’t count on forcing four turnovers, especially from a quality opponent. Still, that’s what happened, and one of those turnovers, a fumble by Joe Williams, was returned for a touchdown that gave Colorado an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter. That was enough, and the Buffs hung on for the win – and the reward is a shot at Washington in the Pac-12 championship game.

USC: Some young folks may not recall that there was a time Notre Dame was actually a football powerhouse, and the season-ending game against USC was always a highlight. But those days are past, Notre Dame is ordinary, and a resurgent USC team rolled to a 45-27 win on the legs of Adoree Jackson. Jackson ran a kickoff back 97 yards for a score, caught a 52-yard touchdown pass, and just for good measure, threw in a 55-yard punt return, also winding up in the house. Next stop, a bowl game, and presumably the opponent will be of the stature that Notre Dame once enjoyed.

Utah: Despite getting a first quarter punt return for a score, Utah simply couldn’t handle Colorado and had to settle for a 5-4 Pac-12 record. Since at one point Utah led the South, this was a disappointing ending to what is still has to be accounted a successful season. A win in a bowl game will give the Utes nine for the season, and even though the passing game disappeared last week, and Joe Williams was held to less than 100 yards, there still have been plenty of smiles by the Great Salt Lake.

Arizona State: It was pretty clear that an Arizona team was going to finish with the longest losing streak in the Pac-12, but it was a bit of a surprise that it turned out to be Arizona State. The Sun Devils’ defense simply collapsed against Arizona, allowing the Wildcats to score almost 19% of their seasons total in a single game. Yes, quarterback Manny Wilkins threw for 372 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 79 yards as well, but it was not nearly enough when the defense gives up 56 points. What made it even more painful is that a win would of made Arizona State bowl eligible -- but instead the Sun Devils came up with one of their worst efforts of the season.

UCLA: The Bruins arrived to a gray and more than half-empty Memorial Stadium last Saturday, and sunk to the level of the surroundings by putting on a dismal display of college football. It was so bad that their band didn’t even get to perform at halftime, despite making the trip in their resplendent blue and gold outfits. There really wasn’t much to say about UCLA’s effort in this game, as it was pretty much nonexistent. Luckily, Jim Mora has an enormous buyout, so losses like this aren’t likely to affect his status. But they certainly do affect the mood of UCLA fans.

Arizona: It’s been a long year in Tucson, and though one game can’t erase the sting of nine losses (eight in the Pac-12), rushing for 512 yards on 48 carries against your archrival in the final game of the season is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. Arizona attempted only eight passes, and completed just three, but totally overwhelmed Arizona State with a brutal ground game that sprinted, bulled and sashayed across the goal line seven times. Brandon Dawkins and Samajie Grant each ran for more than 175 yards, and Dawkins, remember, is just a sophomore.

 

Final Pac-12 Standings          
Pac 12 - North W-L P-12 PF PA STRK
Washington 1-Nov 1-Aug 537 214 W2
Washington State 4-Aug 2-Jul 484 326 L2
Stanford 3-Sep 3-Jun 317 242 W5
Oregon State 8-Apr 6-Mar 314 366 W2
California 7-May 6-Mar 445 511 W1
Oregon 8-Apr 7-Feb 425 497 L1
           
Pac 12 - South W-L P-12 PF PA STRK
Colorado 2-Oct 1-Sep 417 225 W6
USC 3-Sep 2-Jul 395 266 W8
Utah 4-Aug 4-May 362 287 L2
Arizona State 7-May 7-Feb 400 478 L6
UCLA 8-Apr 7-Feb 299 330 L2
Arizona 9-Mar 8-Jan 297 460 W1

 

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