Outside of Oregon, it’s a tough season for the Pac-12
Just about any sort of Pac-12 win is a reason fans are rushing to the pitch to celebrate these days.
In Boulder last weekend, struggling Colorado Buffaloes fans stormed the field after beating an Oregon State team to five wins on the return home. In Tucson, the Arizona Wildcats loyalists went wild after ending a 20-game skid.
Outside of No.5 Oregon (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12), it’s been a tough season for a league that started with five teams in the top 25 and high hopes. Now the Ducks are flying solo in the AP poll.
USC’s Clay Helton was fired for losing too many games. Nick Rolovich of Washington state and several assistants were fired in October for failing to comply with the governor’s order that all state employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Colorado has parted ways with their offensive line coach. Washington recently let go of its offensive coordinator. Oh, and more coaching news: Washington’s Jimmy Lake was suspended for a side incident last weekend.
There are just a few wins that have made headlines over other Power 5 teams (most notably, Oregon to Ohio State), juxtaposed with astonishing losses (the Huskies falling to lower-tier Montana) and a score of 0-4 against No. 14 BYU (Cougars can add to that against USC).
The league’s best offensive team is 23rd in points (Utah, 35.4 points) and defense (Washington, 19.7). In total offense, a Pac-12 team does not show up until No.34 (USC, 441.8 yards per game) and in total defense until No.27 (Arizona State, 328.8).
There’s also this: A league known for producing many elite passers doesn’t have a QB in the top 15 for passing yards. USC’s Kedon Slovis registers nationally at No.32. Finish outside the top 15 for passing yards and it’ll be something the conference hasn’t seen since Colorado and Utah have. joined in 2011 (excluding the 2020 season shortened by the virus).
A statistical anomaly? Could be. The Beavers, behind BJ Baylor, have the 10th best rushing attack in the country and the Huskies the highest ranked pass defense.
“I believe football works in cycles,” said Colorado coach Karl Dorrell, whose team must end with three straight wins to become eligible for a second straight season. âThere is going to be a different part of the game in five years. The game is changing and we have to evolve as it evolves. “
One constant: Oregon … in addition to this overtime loss at Stanford.
This Ducks team could win the Pac-12 North this weekend if they beat Washington State (5-4, 4-2) and Oregon State (5-4, 3-3) falls at Stanford (3-6, 2-5). On the other side, Utah (6-3, 5-1) can go one step further to claim their fourth Pac-12 South title with a win in Arizona (1-8, 1-5).
âPersonally, I don’t feel any (extra pressure) and with our players there is no indication that they are feeling it,â Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. âWe never talk about it in meetings and we just say we’re in a good position. It’s as close as we get to talking about the ranking.
In Tempe, Arizona last weekend, one of the stars of the USC-Arizona State show was a “tailback” who turned out to be as cunning as a fox. There was virtually no way to stop the guest on all fours in their mad dash inside the stadium as they simply tried to leave the pitch.
But storm the land in Boulder? It was an overtime win over an Oregon State team that hadn’t gone badly since 2013. And in Tucson, Ariz., Fans reveled in a 10-3 win. on a California team exhausted by COVID-19.
âA great feeling,â said Arizona defensive lineman Jalen Harris. âIt’s been a while since we’ve won so it was good to go out there and get that first win.
It has also been a tumultuous season at USC and Washington – although the Trojans (4-5, 3-4) may become bowl eligible under caretaker coach Donte Williams with two wins in their last three. matches.
The Huskies recently announced the sacking of offensive coordinator John Donovan. The next day, they suspended Lake, who will miss all of the team’s activities for the week and will resume his coaching responsibilities on Sunday. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory will be the interim coach for Saturday’s game against Arizona State.
The suspension comes from Lake who appeared to push his right arm towards Ruperake Fuavai, then push him in a brief skirmish on the Washington sideline in a 26-16 loss to Oregon over the weekend. . Fuavai appeared to be exchanging words with Jaylon Redd from Oregon just before the incident with Lake.
“I fully accept the decision that has been made,” Lake said in a Twitter post. âOur team has every right to expect better than what I posted on Saturday, and I am committed to doing just that – being better so that our program reflects all that is good about being a Washington Husky. “
AP freelance writer Monica Costello contributed to this report.