Pac Tracks: It's only a banner season if you consider those being flown over UCLA games


The “over\under” on Pac 12 mentions during Tuesday night’s College Football Playoff ranking show has been set at “two.”

ESPN\Disney\analyst cast members, decent folks that they are, will read the names of ranked Pac 12 schools FAST--like a disclaimer at the end of a late-night catheter commercial.

Stanford will definitely move into the top 25 based on Friday night’s conference-damaging win over Washington. Washington State, Washington and USC will get perfunctory attention.

The selection committee, as usual, will show the Pac 12 more respect than it receives from the selection committee show.

And also more respect than the other, mercifully meaningless, polls.

USC, at No. 11, is already ranked higher in the CFP ranking than the Trojans were in Sunday’s Associated Press poll (12).

The AP has USC at No. 12 even after it won by double digits at Colorado, on a day THREE teams in the top 10 lost (Georgia, Notre Dame, Washington).[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

And the AP, remember, is the index that historically respects USC, awarding it, not LSU, the AP national title in 2003. The AP also did not vacate USC’s national title in 2004 after everyone else jumped on the Reggie Bush, pile-on wagon.

Arizona (7-3), which did not crack either the AP or USA Today Coaches’ poll on Sunday, despite being the second-best team in the Pac 12 South, might even make the CFP top-25.

Sitting on the Mock Selection committee panel a few years ago, playing the role of then-member Pat Haden, I came to understand the Pac 12 was going to get a much fairer shake with the four-team playoff than it ever did in the 16-year history of the BCS.

The reason wasn’t rocket science. Poll voters in the East who submit their ballots on Sunday morning could not reasonably account for late Pac 12 games they did not see.

Poll voters in the West could barely stay awake for Pac After Dark.

As a mock committee member, I knew how thoroughly each Pac 12 school was going to get scrubbed. The committee actually is provided stats and film of each Pac 12 game. There is someone on the committee who is in charge of providing other members with information.

It is more than an AP voter rolling out of bed on Sunday morning, saying “oh, shoot, I forgot to vote!” and phoning in his ballot not knowing if Arizona won, or lost, in a late-night shootout in Tucson.

The Pac 12, to prove this point, has already pushed two schools into the playoff since 2013, Oregon and Washington, after placing only three teams into the 16-year history of the BCS title game.

Some years, like this one, there’s nothing anyone can do.

The Washington Huskies, dismissed weeks ago, blew a terrific chance to get back into the playoff discussion by losing to Stanford.

The best the Pac can do now is produce a two-loss champion named USC, Washington or Washington State.

And that’s probably not going to cut it.

USC picked the wrong year to lose, by three points, at Washington State. That defeat probably can’t overcome an embarrassing stumble at Notre Dame.

The Trojans, who clinched the Pac South on Saturday, still have a chance to finish 11-2 with remaining games versus UCLA and the Pac 12 North winner.

With a few more upsets, in certain scenarios, with one of those being undefeated Wisconsin losing this week to Michigan, USC could present a decent case in a two-loss playoff argument against Ohio State, which lost at home to Oklahoma and got blown out at (ranked-no-more) Iowa.

My guess is the ESPN talking heads, led by former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit, will argue Ohio State if this scenario comes up during Tuesday night’s selection show.

USC has the No. 14 schedule strength in this week’s Sagarin Ratings, which the committee no doubt considers, compared to No 26 for Ohio State.

Trojan fans should be comforted knowing the committee will show USC the respect it deserves—or doesn’t.

It will consider USC was injury-riddled at Washington State and was also battered going into Notre Dame, which had a bye week to prepare.

USC is also playing 12 consecutive weeks without a break, which finally comes after this week. That has to be some sort of dereliction of duty committed by conference scheduling.

The committee will also consider how USC is playing N-O-W.

Sam Darnold, mired in a sophomore slump much of the season, appears to have regained his 2016 form.

Darnold, that darned fool kid from Capistrano Beach, still thinks USC is in the playoff chase.

“Yeah, 100%” he said.

The Pac 12 North, frankly, is cooked.

Two-loss Washington State has the clearest path, needing “only” to win at Washington on Nov. 25 to win the division.

Three-loss Stanford is next-best positioned. The Cardinal wins the North if it beats Cal this week and Washington beats Washington State.

Washington, still maybe the Pac 12’s best team on any given day, needs a Cal win over Stanford coupled with a victory in the Apple Cup.

Good luck there.

This hasn't been a banner season for the Pac 12, unless you consider those flown last weekend, behind planes over the Rose Bowl, calling for Jim Mora's head.

"It's just absurd," UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen said. "It's disrespectful. It's disgusting."

It is what it is.[/membership]