Fans from the conference of champions should get familiar with this statement because it won’t change. The conference is filled with parity right now and the end result will be playing in a somewhat meaningless bowl across the board. The parity fares well for programs like Arizona, Utah, and Washington State who aren’t traditional powers. Coming into the season there appeared to be three possible playoff contenders in Washington, Washington State, and USC. USC and Washington State have essentially been eliminated. SC was routed by Notre Dame, and Wazzu ran into a hungry Arizona team on its homecoming. At this point, it’s a battle for one New Year’s Six Bowl birth across the conference.
Now that we’ve unpacked the fact that there aren’t any elite teams, who’s the favorite to win the conference? There are four teams that have a compelling case. I’ll address each division and pick the two teams that’ll meet in the conference championship game.
Stanford escaped in Corvallis last Thursday with a win over the Beavers without its Heisman candidate, Bryce Love. They’ve got a brutal stretch coming up with back to back games against Washington State and Washington. My guess is The Cardinal lose one of those two. Next, Washington State who’s currently reeling after an embarrassing loss against Arizona.
Washington State is in an interesting spot. It seems like the sky’s falling, but it’s actually in control of its own destiny. If they win their remaining three games, they win the division. However, there’s a reality factor when making this choice and for that alone I have no faith in the Cougars. I expect them to go 2-1 at the very best and ultimately eliminate themselves from contention.
Washington seemed like the bride amongst bridesmaids in the preseason. Its special teams unit caught a case of the yips against Arizona State, but it rebounded nicely against UCLA Saturday. With one away game remaining against Stanford, it should come into each game as favorites. More than anything else, it’s more talented than each of the teams it’ll face. I’d be crazy to go against Chris Peterson’s ability to have his team ready for a strong close.
Arizona fans might want to pump the breaks on the basketball season. Rich Rod has something cooking right now. Khalil Tate is in the Heisman hunt after putting on another show against Wazzu. He threw for 275 yards and 2 TD to go along with 146 yards rushing and 1 TD. The kicker to this incredible stretch is he’s a true sophomore that just turned 18. What the hell was Rich Rod doing starting Brandon Dawkins the first five weeks of the season?! Saturday will essentially decide the Wildcats’ fate when they face off against USC; both are tied to the lead in the division. They won’t face another ranked opponent the rest of the way, but the rivalry with Arizona State is always tough to predict. I’ll pass on the Wildcats as my pick, but I’d love to be wrong.
USC and their golden boy, Sam Darnold, have been a bit of a disappointment this season losing each of its primetime games against ranked opponents. This is SC’s chance to salvage the season and I expect them to with home field being the difference in a tight high-scoring game. From there they face Arizona and Colorado; each winnable games.
That leaves Washington and USC in the championship.