Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Pac-12 Football Getting Too Good?

It may sound counterintuitive, but a drop in competition regarding Pac-12 football may be the best thing to do in terms of the conference garnering national attention.

Over the past three or four seasons, the same question has echoed throughout the college football landscape: Will University of Oregon finally get the chance to face an elite Southeastern Conference (SEC) team in the national title game? Every year the question has been asked, the answer has been a resounding “no.” The problem isn’t that Oregon puts a lackluster product on the field, but that the rest of the Pac-12 can’t seem to roll over enough for Oregon to get its shot at a title every year.

Looking back to the University of Southern California glory days of the mid 2000s, with teams quarterbacked by Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, there was never any perennial competition for second place. Washington State, University of California, Berkeley and Oregon all took shots at trying to dethrone USC, but none of them were ever thought of as the Trojans’ equals. These were the days when USC was perennially reaching national championships and dominating in them.

The rise of constant doormat and running joke, Stanford University, has clouded the landscape of the Pac-12 once again. Oregon was in the midst of a title game run, only to be rocked by the physical playing style of Stanford and then lost a second time to the strong ground game of University of Arizona. Stanford, now with the inside track to win the conference, couldn’t get out of their own way, getting upset by University of Utah and a resurgent USC. Stanford will probably represent the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl this year, but only if they can win the Pac-12 Championship game.

Only one conference in the country is good enough to put a one-loss team ahead of a major conference undefeated team, the legendary SEC. This is the same SEC where top 25 teams are a dime a dozen, but University of Alabama reigns supreme under the coaching of Nick Saban (although Auburn University looks to have usurped them for now).

Looking at the teams that are more likely to make it to the national championship instead of Oregon or Stanford, we see Auburn, Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State.

The Pac-12 has the second greatest number of teams in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings with five, only behind the SEC. In addition, the University of Washington, University of Arizona and Oregon State have all made appearances in the Coaches or Associated Press rankings at some point this season. This inability to take a week off and face top-level competition by playing high-caliber opponents takes its toll on teams attempting to make a title run.

Stanford and Oregon combined have faced eight top 25 opponents, six if you exclude the game they played each other.  The only teams in the top ten of the BCS standings who have played more than two ranked opponents this season are members of the Pac-12 or SEC. Both Stanford and Oregon would have had an outside shot at the big game if they could have held on with only one loss, but now that they have both dropped two games, all title hopes are dashed. Having one of those top teams take a step or two back to ease the schedule for these two powerhouses could open the door to bigger and better things for the conference –– someone just has to take the dive.

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