PULLMAN – The cannibalization of the Pac-12 conference is complete. Stanford and Utah each picked up their second loss on Saturday, knocking them out of the playoff picture.
But while the “Conference of Champions” is not going to produce this year’s champion, 10 of the 12 teams still have a shot to make a bowl game. Furthermore, the conference can send a team to the Rose Bowl and a New Year’s Six bowl, although that would probably require Stanford’s beating Notre Dame and California but losing to Utah in the Pac-12 championship.
The Pac-12 flexed its depth in 2015. But that depth cost it a shot at a national championship, and the hefty payout ($6 million last year) that comes with sending a team to the playoffs.
1 Washington State (7-3, 5-2; last week: 2) The Cougars have climbed from the very bottom of the rankings, after their season-opening loss, to the No. 1 spot and are just a few plays away from the playoff conversation. What a time to be a Cougar.
2 Oregon (7-3, 5-2; last week: 6) The Ducks are back. Oregon’s win over Stanford shows that the program still has some juice left. Now if it can just find a QB for next year …
3 Stanford (8-2, 7-1; last week: 1) No playoffs for Stanford, no Heisman for Christian McCaffrey and Kevin Hogan probably lost his All-Conference first team spot. It was a rough week for the Cardinal.
4 Utah (8-2, 5-2; last week: 5) Many felt Kyle Whittingham’s job was in jeopardy for the first half of last season, so it’s still been a pretty good year for the Utes.
5 UCLA (7-3, 4-3; last week: 3) If the Bruins still had Myles Jack and Eddie Vanderdoes, they might be the conference’s best team. Don’t feel bad for Bruins fans, though. UCLA has a young roster led by a freshman QB who looks like the next Andrew Luck.
6 Arizona (6-5, 3-5; last week: 10) Rich Rodriguez has dragged the Wildcats to bowl eligibility. Will it be his last act as the Arizona coach?
7 USC (7-3, 5-2; last week: 4) You sort of lose the “hyper-motivated” storyline when your team of All-Americans nearly loses to Colorado.
8 Arizona State (5-5, 3-4; last week: 9) Congratulations to the Sun Devils for managing to both surrender and win the same game.
9 California (6-4, 3-4; last week: 8) California finally breaks through to the postseason, in only mildly-impressive fashion.
10 Washington (4-6, 2-5; last week: 7) Even though the Huskies had the game won in the first quarter, that proved to be a poor time to stop playing.
11 Colorado (4-7, 1-6; last week: 11) Preparing for a game against Colorado must feel like Russian Roulette, knowing that the Buffaloes are going to beat somebody.
12 Oregon State (2-8, 0-7; last week: 12) Gary Andersen lost seven games in two years at Wisconsin and has already matched it in Pac-12 play alone.
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