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Around CFB: The Pac-12 returns, but will it even matter?

November 4, 2020
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The Libertarian candidate of college football — the Pac-12 — returns to competition on Saturday.

You do remember the Pac-12? No? That’s OK. Few do. Here’s a reminder: It’s that once-proud West Coast-based league with a grand history, but that is now largely ignored.

Back in August, the Pac-12 and the Big Ten opted to cancel football season because of the COVID-19 virus. A month later, the Big Ten decided to play the season. College football celebrated.

So, the Pac-12 decided to play, too.  College football yawned.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mario Cristobal and Oregon won the Pac-12 in 2019. The Ducks are favorites again.

The Pac-12 is largely irrelevant. In the last five seasons, Washington in 2016 was the only Pac-12 team to get into the College Football Playoff. The Huskies managed one touchdown in a loss to Alabama.

Last year, Oregon and Utah were the Pac-12 teams that finished in the final Top 25. Oregon lost to Auburn, which was the third-place team in the Southeastern Conference West Division.

Utah lost to Texas, 38-10, in the Alamo Bowl. The Pac-12 is so moribund that Texas didn’t even claim to be “baaaack.”

But the Pac-12 is back with a six-game conference-only schedule.

“We are grateful to be playing football, and we will never complain," Washington first-year coach Jimmy Lake said this week. "We know how quickly this game can be snatched away from us. It was a short time ago, we didn't think we were playing any football in 2020.

"You just let us know when to play, where to go, and we'll be there."

Some might say the Pac-12 is late to the party.

More accurately, the Pac-12 was the guest with a courtesy invitation that surprisingly showed up. You just hope they stay out of the way.

Seriously, the Pac-12 is barely interesting this year. Chris Petersen retired as Washington’s. Mike Leach left Washington State to coach Mississippi State. Oregon star quarterback Justin Herbert is now leading the Los Angeles Chargers. Star Oregon tackle Penei Sewell opted out. USC is still coached by dull Clay Helton.

But the Pac-12 does have some redeeming value. When all the other games are completed but you’re restless, there’s still a late Pac-12 game to watch.

That’ll put you to sleep.

Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports
Lawrence missed Clemson’s contest with Boston College with COVID-19. He’ll miss this week’s game with Notre Dame.

Heisman watch (If my vote was due today)

1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson, QB: Although he will miss two games because of COVID he still projects here as the favorite. Lawrence has passed for 1,833 yards and 17 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 4 touchdowns.

2. Kyle Trask, Florida, QB: Trask has thrown at least 4 touchdown passes in all four games. He has 18 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions. In a 41-17 victory over Missouri last week, Trask passed for 345 yards and 4 touchdowns.

3. Mac Jones, Alabama, QB: Jones is third in the nation in passing after six games. He’s passed for 2,196 yards and 16 touchdowns with 2 interceptions. In a 41-0 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday, he passed for 291 yards and 4 touchdowns.

4. Justin Fields, Ohio State, QB: In the Buckeyes’ two games, Fields has completed a whopping 87.3 percent of his passing attempts. He’s accumulated 594 passing yards and 6 touchdowns with no interceptions. He had 318 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 38-25 victory over Penn State on Saturday.

5. Najee Harris, Alabama, RB: Harris is ranked seventh in the nation in rushing and 12th in all-purpose yards. He’s rushed for 714 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s caught 20 passes for another 183 yards. In a 41-0 victory over Mississippi State, he rushed for 119 yards on 21 carries and caught 6 passes for 36 yards.

Predicted playoff participants

1. Clemson: Even with Trevor Lawrence out the Tigers make the clutch plays. Defense has to play more consistently, though.

2. Alabama: Defense took a big step forward against Mississippi State. Or did the Mississippi State’s offense just take another step back?

Columbus Dispatch-USA TODAY Sports
The Buckeyes are the toast of the B1G.

3. Ohio State: The Buckeyes rolled over Penn State. Seriously, what Big Ten team is going to beat them? Indiana?

4. Texas A&M: Again. Why not? A 9-1 season is a distinct possibility with the only loss to Alabama. There is a victory over No. 8 Florida, which will rise higher if the Gators defeat Georgia this weekend.

This week’s games to watch

No. 8 Florida vs. No. 5 Georgia: The de facto SEC East Division championship game matches Florida’s high-scoring offense and Georgia’s stingy defense.

No. 1 Clemson at No. 4 Notre Dame: Trevor Lawrence not playing turns this clash into a tossup.

No. 9 BYU at No. 21 Boise State: BYU making noise as a playoff party crasher. A win over unbeaten Boise State would give Cougars a boost.

No. 23 Michigan at No. 13 Indiana: Winner remains a championship contender. Well, at least until they face Ohio State.

Arizona State at No. 20 USC: The Pac-12 finally opens play with a morning game that may reveal where or not USC is returning to its past glory or just its recent past.

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Discussion from...

Around CFB: The Pac-12 returns, but will it even matter?

2,107 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by AWP 97
ABATTBQ87
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AG
Hey Olin, could you and your crack team of investigative reporters look into these numbers and get back to us, please?

2 months into the NCAA football season, so let's check the scoreboard

Head Coach deaths: ZERO
Asst coach deaths: ZERO
Trainers deaths: ZERO
Player deaths: ZERO
Official deaths: ZERO
Staff deaths: ZERO
Band member deaths: ZERO

other question:

How many of the above groups have been hospitalized?

Thanks

Agsuffering@bulaw
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PAC = Junk, but likely PAC backdoors into the playoffs. Not enough games for each to get 2 L's.

FPI

Oregon 5.7 (soft crossover w/ UCLA)
USCw 5.6 (soft crossover w/ Leachless WSU)
Utah 4.7 (soft crossover w/ Oregon St)

Better than 50/50 that both division winners enter the PACCG with 1 or 0 L's. The committee will give priority to a 6-1 PAC champ. They have never deviated:

1. Undefeated P5 champ
2. 1-loss P5 champ
3. 1-loss P5 non-champ
4. Unprecedented
SEC Champs
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AG
It's too bad Notre Dame won't stick around the ACC after this season. It's good for college football.
AWP 97
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AG
I forgot Chris Petersen retired from stress. I imagine coaching in the Pac12 is stressful like wandering aimlessly around the desert.
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