We’re three weeks into the 2018 college football season and the Pac-12 conference is already in trouble of earning a spot in the College Football Playoff. We saw the Washington Huskies give Auburn everything they could handle at the Mercedez Benz Super Dome in week 1. They weren’t quite as polished on offense, but it’s expected at the departure of Jonathan Smith accompanied with the dominant defensive front from Auburn. This was particularly impressive because it was essentially a home game for the Tigers. For those unaware, Auburn University is an hour and a half drive to Atlanta. This was a home game for the Tigers.
Looking around at the other teams in the league that were presumed contenders have looked like middle-of-the-road ranked teams. Stanford was presumed to rival the Huskies during preseason talks but struggled early on against San Diego State. They were unable to get Bryce Love going, but after a heroic performance by JJ Arcega-Whiteside, they pulled away. Their matchup with USC this past Saturday said more about USC than it did about Stanford. It seems hard to believe that had JT Daniels not reclassified, USC wouldn’t have an answer at quarterback? Seems like a commonality that highly touted QBs enroll early. Missing your senior prom is one thing but missing your senior season and homecoming dance is another. It seems like the Trojans are destined for a meaningless bowl after watching them struggle against UNLV, virtually blanked against the Cardinal, and blown out against Texas. For one half USC managed to make Tom Herman and an average Texas team look competent.
Though Utah is unranked they’re in the same boat as Oregon with returning a QB and having a team with a chance at a Pac-12 title. Oregon’s biggest question is its defense. Does it have the ability to stop teams with true power at the line of scrimmage such as Washington? This week’s home game against Stanford offer some forecasting for expectations the remainder of the season. Realistically, unless the aforementioned teams run the table, the conference is looking at a similar fate to 2017.
I almost forgot to mention the beloved Beavs! They won’t play into many of the outcomes of 2018 aside from playing spoiler, but the offense under Jonathan Smith is for real. Shades of Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan in regard to the ability to scheme guys open and create mismatches. The first quarter of the Ohio State game was a brief glimpse into the future. There isn’t an offensive line in the Pac-12 that can block their defensive line so there’s only so much consistency that could be found. The growth of the defense will be the true measure of success in the Smith era.