“Will somebody else please step up?”
Rankman has been screaming it for years; that the Pac 12 can never be fully respected (especially in Dixie) until a school other than USC wins a national championship in football.
Is this finally the year? (probably not, the odds are against it, the playoff committee would never allow it, but indulge me here).
Let's review: in the BCS era, Oregon has made it to the title twice, in 2010 and 2014—and lost both times. UCLA was the first No.1 in BCS standings history (1998) but that almost seems longer ago than the Battle of 1066.
Stanford has been a powerhouse for several years now but doesn’t seem suited for the college football playoff model. The Cardinal, first under Jim Harbaugh and now David Shaw, are built like your granddad's favorite NFL team, where the goal is to win close games in the fourth quarter.
Here’s the problem: you can afford a few close losses in the NFL and still make the Super Bowl, but only one two-loss team in the BCS era (LSU in 2007) has won the championship.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Thus, Stanford has not produced an undefeated season in the "Harbaugh Era." It went a magnificent 12-1 in 2010 in Jim's last season but finished fourth in the BCS standings behind three unbeaten schools—Auburn, Oregon and Texas Christian.
Finishing fourth would have put Stanford in the playoff in the current system, but in 2010 only the top two teams advanced.
So, the question is, are there schools in the Pac 12 besides USC that have a history of going all the way?
Washington and Colorado, the current leaders of the North and South divisions.
Consider this amazing stat. Since UCLA earned the UPI share of the 1954 title--Eisenhower's FIRST term-- only two conference teams besides USC have won national titles: Washington and Colorado.
Both were half shares, and a long time ago. Colorado was a member of the Big 8 when it won the AP title in 1990, while Washington claimed the coaches’ crown in 1991.
So, these are certainly exciting days for the Pac 12, to say the least—not that any of us saw it coming.
Washington, currently 5-0 and ranked No. 5 in the AP, was 0-12 as recently as 2008.
Six years later, under third-year coach Chris Petersen, the Huskies established themselves as the league’s best team’s after Friday night’s rout of defending champion Stanford in Seattle.
Ok, but... Colorado?
The program reeked buffalo chips when Pac 10 added it and Utah in 2011—and no one brought a deodorizer. The Buffs had not won a league game in three previous seasons but are currently 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Pac 12 South.
Colorado’s only loss was a hard-fought defeat at No. 4 Michigan. Now in his fourth year, Mike MacIntyre has finally got the Boulder rolling downhill.
The Buffaloes are undefeated in league after a break-through win at Oregon, followed by Saturday’s crushing, 47-6, home win over hapless Oregon State.
Colorado cracked the polls this week for the first time since 2005, moving to No. 21 in the AP and No. 23 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.
The 41-point win over Oregon State was Colorado’s biggest league victory since beating Kansas State, 54-7, in 1992.
What does this all prove?
“I think it proves we’re legitimate and we can do it,” MacIntyre said after Saturday’s win. “Everyone kept telling me last week ‘Are they going to have a letdown?’ Like I said since Day One, we’re a good football team.”
Washington and Colorado are hardly home free in a conference where the animal mascots tend to eat their young.
Washington travels this week to face wounded Oregon which, oh, has won 11 straight games in the series. The Huskies also have to play at Utah, Cal and Washington State with remaining home games against Oregon State, USC and Arizona State.
Colorado can’t rest either as as it travels this week to USC, coming off a wipe-out win over Arizona State and looking like a different team since Sam Darnold took over at quarterback. The Buffaloes also have to play Stanford, UCLA and Utah.
No one is saying Monday’s Pac 12 standings are going to hold. But it is nice knowing there are other schools out there, besides USC, that know how to finish a season without spitting the bit. [/membership]