In the past three weeks, we’ve seen a different front-runner emerge from the Pac-12. It was just two weeks ago that a one-loss Washington Husky team was heading to Oregon to defend its right to stand atop the North. And man, what if UW had stolen that game? Given the other upsets that befell the likes of West Virginia, Georgia and Ohio State over the past couple of weeks, the Huskies missed out on a gift for a virtual free ride to the College Football Playoff—should they go on to win the Pac-12, of course.
But nooooo, the Ducks swept the Huskies and had been looking like the Pac-12’s next bell of the ball. At one point, Ryen Rusillo of ESPN was naming almost every team out of the AP Top 10, saying how each one would lose to the athletically imposing Ducks.
Enter Mustache Minshew.
The Washington State quarterback, who reminds me of one of those sketchy car dealer cowboys 30 miles out of Amarillo who’s somehow overstocked on half-broken down Chevy S-10s, is somehow on pace to have more passing yards than any of Case Keenum’s seasons. Now I don’t mean “somehow” like it’s some crazy kind of surprise that WSU has a rolling offense. Gardner Minshew, due to a series of unfortunate events, is playing quarterback for just a year after coming from seemingly nowhere. When he’s on the field, the kid gets it.
And what did I say? Defensive line, shmee-shcmensive line. The Ducks tried to bring as much pressure up front as they could, but the genius of Mario Cristobal fell at the mercy of Mike Leach’s amazingly complicated oh-we’re-just-gonna-throw-over-you offense. The Ducks succeeded against UW because of stellar line play, but it’s not Mike Leach’s game. He redefined how the game was going to be played, went a little crazy and won.
For the second straight week, the Oregon Ducks’ Justin Herbert had a mediocre performance. It’s understandable to struggle as a quarterback against a talented UW secondary. In fact, it’s expected, really, and it’s really not a knock on Herbert’s ability coming out of that game. However, while WSU has been performing well on the defensive side of the ball, there’s no excuse not to be able to throw against the Cougs. The offense just has too many weapons in Dillon Mitchell and CJ Verdell to look so slow out there.
And to an extent, maybe the Ducks weren’t that great to begin with. Maybe, none of UW, WSU or Oregon deserve any kind of credit heading into the weekend.
I think, every Pac-12 team kinda sucks right now.
The Huskies were lauded at the beginning of the season as not being scared enough to take on an SEC team out-of-conference, even though they lost. Don’t forget, outside of a couple of Utah mishaps, the Huskies are carrying two losses into the ASU and Oregon games and should feel extremely lucky having only dropped two so far this year.
Similar to UW, WSU escaped the clutches of a Utah team that has just turned on the jets. Again, barring a play or two, WSU has two losses heading into Oregon.
Although Oregon had won all of their out-of-conference games, they fumbled away the Stanford game and actually almost lost to UW if it weren’t for some questionable clock management on coach Petersen toward the end of regulation. The Ducks haven’t even faced Utah yet, but I know for sure that when that particular time comes, the Ducks won’t be let off easy.
Now every Pac-12 team has talent, but none of them are world beaters. If I had to pick any of these teams against West Virginia, I’d still probably take West Virginia. Hell, I’m not even sure any of these teams could have it easy against Iowa or UCF either; but at that point, it’s just restless speculation. But the speculating is still valuable because the Pac-12 is in a ton of trouble right now.
WSU is the only viable, potential conference champion that would be able to make it into the College Football Playoff assuming the team wins every game. They have no bye week as they finish the year against Washington, but if they can just make it through this weekend, then they have a shot.
But it’s the Cougs, and that’s kinda meh for me. One of these days the “air raid” will look like a sad dink-and-dunk offense and the Cougs will lose, leaving the Pac-12 without a viable contender.
To be clear, I’m not a fan of rooting for other Pac-12 teams to win out for the sake of the conference. Being a UW fan, yeah I’m kinda hoping the Cougs beef it so that UW can retake the Pac-12 crown when it’s all said and done after this season. Would I expect a Cougs or Ducks fan to be cheering for UW to get a Playoff appearance? No, but if I’m being realistic—I wouldn’t put too much hope in the Cougar basket.
The Stanford Cardinal will eek out a close one 24-17 this weekend, and the Pac-12 is mired in cupcake chaos.