Larry Scott’s experiment this year to shorten Pac 12 halftimes by five minutes has inspired me to cut some slack out of this season’s halftime report.
We’ll excise superfluous adjective and nouns and abbreviate the glossary of terms as follows:
Chris Petersen =Coach Pete
Washington State =Wazzu
Eastern Washington =EWU
Tee Martin =T Martin
Commissioner Larry Scott =Larry
Pac 12 Network =P12N
Rose Bowl = RB
Kirk Herbstreit =Herbie
Late Night Kickoffs =LNK
Non conference =NC
Arizona basketball =Team 1 (FBI report)
College Football Playoff =CFP
Kentucky Fried Chicken =KFC
At this time =ATT
Not too shabby =NTS
Cut to chase. The Pac 12’s first half report is in and it is solid. Larry’s League is much better positioned in the CFP race than it was last year at this time. It has three legitimate contenders in UDub, Wazzu and SC. Meaning: if any of those top-15 schools win out they will likely be playing a national semifinal game at the RB.
Those schools are a combined 17-1…NTS
Last year ATT only UDub was in the mix. SC started 1-3, remember, and Wazzu opened 0-2.
This is progress. Pac avoided embarrassing NC loss that can set your reputation back. Last year, remember, Wazzu opened with a home loss to EWU and SC was blown out by Tide.
This year’s worst NC defeat was what…UCLA at Memphis?[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Pac 12 is stronger, top to bottom, with more talking-point firewalls in place. There is only one terrible team, Oregon State, as compared to the SEC having at least two: Missouri and Ole Miss. And maybe four.
Oregon State is so bad it announced Monday it was relieving coach Gary Andersen of his duties, whatever those were, clearing a path (we hope) for Nebraska to relieve Mike Riley of his duties and Riley returning home to Corvallis.
Cal is 0-3 in conference play yet boasts NC wins over the ACC and SEC.
Oregon and UCLA, it appears, are not going to go 4-8 again.
Colorado is worse but Zona has already matched last year’s win total. Arizona State is not good but not deplorable. Utah is solid and Stanford has rebounded from losses to SD State and SC with quality wins against UCLA and Utah. Cardinal also has legit Heisman candidate in Bryce Love.
Pac is also getting the breaks it needs to move contenders along. Huge along those lines was Oklahoma’s home loss to Iowa State.
This opened door to undefeated UDub\Wazzu, or one-loss SC, beating out Big 12 champion for a playoff spot.
NO champion from the Pac was going to beat out undefeated Oklahoma, which still has a flag-planting victory at Ohio State in its pocket.
Texas Christian is the only undefeated Big 12 team remaining. Horned Frogs are a threat although their non-conference schedule includes a 1-AA (Jackson State) and two FBS wins over ho (Arkansas) and hum (SMU).
Michigan losing was also a Big Ten break for the Pac, although no one expects the Big Ten to get left out of the playoff so long as Jim Delany is commissioner.
That said: UDub is getting (rightly) ripped for its NC schedule of Rutgers, Montana and Fresno. Meanwhile, media darling Penn State skates free with its set list of Akron, Pitt and Georgia State.
Thanks to promotional machine ESPN, Penn State STILL has a leading Heisman candidate RB (Saquon Barkley), who has failed to crack 100-yards rushing in his last two games. That’s called Living Large.
Wisconsin, the Big Ten’s other undefeated behemoth, also has a schedule Herbie is protecting like a mother hen. But how is Washington’s NC that much worse than Wisconsin playing Utah State, FAU and BYU?
But wait: how did the Badgers know BYU was going to be bad this year? The way UDub should have known nine years ago when it scheduled Rutgers, coming off the best stretch in program history?
Wisconsin also misses Ohio State AND Penn State in the regular season…but let’s continue to rub it in on UDub?
Not that the Pac isn’t set up nicely.
The dream playoff scenario is an undefeated Apple Cup winner, UDub or Wazzu, advancing to the Pac 12 title game against one-loss SC.
SC is hoping for Wazzu so that it can avenge its three-point loss at Pullman. Then again, SC getting unscathed through October and November is getting sketchier by the predictable minute.
SC is limping along at 5-1, racked by serious injuries and a lack of identity. The Trojans, reportedly, were lucky to be playing Oregon State last Saturday on the seldom-seen P12N. That protected a 38-7 final score that masked some serious issues.
The Trojans are not improving and the three-headed offensive play-calling trio of Clay Helton, son Tyson and OC T Martin is being called into question.
The criticism isn’t coming from the media, though, it’s coming from quarterback Sam Darnold.
“Maybe we need to change some play calls,” Darnold was quoted saying in the L.A. Daily News.
Darnold has gone from leading Heisman candidate to this:
“Nothing special,” Oregon State cornerback Kyle White said after his team’s 31-point loss. “He’s a normal Pac 12 quarterback. I didn’t see anything special. He made his throws, made his reads. He fumbled twice. He had one picked off. Should have been three. He’s ok.”
Good luck, SC, getting through the next two games against Utah and at Notre Dame.
IF the Trojans survive and win out, though, they are backed with an unassailable NC schedule of Western Michigan, Texas and Notre Dame.
More breaks: Wazzu played its first road game last week, at Oregon, against Oregon’s third-string quarterback. UDub hosts Oregon on Nov. 4. Before Justin Herbert got hurt, Oregon looked like this year’s bounce-back team.
To get a team through, though, you need things to work out.
UDub is clearly the league’s best team and it will be better served, from this day forth, by knocking off the late-night whining. It needs to avoid--at all cost--pissing matches against narrative-driver ESPN.
And while we're at it: ESPN, the most delicate, sensitive, feelings-hurt, billion-dollar industry we know of, should stop making on-air cupcake jokes about inventory.
I hate it when Bristol and Seattle fight--it's like Greenpeace throwing rocks at the Sierra Club.
Thank goodness calculated Coach Pete, after Saturday’s win against Cal, acknowledged this.
“I just think we need to move on to a new topic” Coach Pete said. “I think we beat this one up enough.”
This time of year, it's best you stick to beating up on opponents.[/membership]