Pac Tracks: Weekend spin class: We're better than the Big Ten West?

If it’s all about numbers then consider the Pac 12, through Sept. 15, as a seven-word quote from 2006:


“They are what we thought they were.”

Former Stanford Coach Dennis Green (RIP), then with the Arizona Cardinals, famously uttered that line about the Chicago Bears.

It sums up beautifully, if not perfectly, what we anticipated for the Pac 12 in 2018.

Some schools have performed better than expected (Colorado, Cal, Arizona State) and some worse (UCLA, Arizona), but it all comes back to a Seinfeld episode: “Prognosis Negative.”

The Pac 12 was only lucky the Big Ten (particularly the West Division) also played.

Larry's League enters the last half of September with only a thread-the-needle path to the college football playoff.

Washington appears the best chance but wasn’t helped that its quality loss, Auburn, lost at home last weekend to Louisiana State.


Quarterback Jake Browning, despite being a fourth-year senior, continues to make questionable decisions under pressure. Browning keeps trying to make plays he can’t make and was lucky his fourth-quarter interception at Utah did not cost his team in a 21-7 win.

Stanford is highly ranked and looking rock solid but faces a series of land mines starting Saturday night at Oregon. The Cardinal then play at Notre Dame, Utah, at Arizona State, Washington State, at Washington.

Bryce Love, who entered the season as a leading Heisman candidate, is no longer one after being held to 29 yards against San Diego State and sitting out Saturday’s win over UC Davis with an undisclosed injury. Love is expected back for this week’s undisclosed game in Eugene.

Oregon is 3-0 but coming off a non-conference schedule that will be laughed at harder by the selection committee than old episodes of "Benny Hill."

Austin Meek, of the Eugene Register-Guard, summed Oregon up perfectly after a ho-hum 35-22 win over San Jose State.

“I don’t know if the Ducks are a good team. Honestly. I don’t.”

Last year, USC became the first South Division team to win the Pac 12 title.

This year, USC is 1-2 and coming off a 37-14 loss at Texas as conference power has pinged back toward the Canadian border.

The Pac North is 15-3 overall while the South is a 9-9 muddle of murk. Here's the full story: [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Colorado is 3-0 but had that record last year before skidding to a 5-7 finish. Arizona State is improved but squandered a big home win over Michigan State by losing at San Diego State (for a second straight year).

The Mountain West Conference, for what it's worth, went 3-0 against the Pac last weekend.

The bright new coaching lights from the South, Kevin Sumlin at Arizona and Chip Kelly at UCLA, have one combined win over Southern Utah.

Clay Helton, after leading USC to last year’s Pac crown, received a contract extension many Trojan fan-attorneys are examining now for missing signatures and opt-out clauses.

The Trojans are playing far beneath their recruiting-class level, can’t run the ball, are abysmal on special teams and could easily fall to 1-3 with a Friday night home loss to Washington State.

The best news for UCLA after Saturday night’s 38-14 home loss to Fresno State was a look-ahead to this week’s opponent: bye. But then, it’s off to play much-improved Colorado before coming home to face Washington.


Luckily, no one’s popping off except the starting quarterback’s father, Michael Thompson, who didn’t take kindly to Kelly’s sideline lecturing of his son during the game.


Coaches need to tread lightly because quarterbacks will transfer faster than offense Kelly choose to run at Oregon but, so far, not in Westwood. UCLA can’t afford to lose Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a talented dual-threat out of Las Vegas who should be the catalyst for the "Big Turnaround" so long as he isn't emotionally wrecked by a potential 2-10 season.

Josh Rosen, remember, lost five games as a true freshman in 2015, so if you're keeping score at home thinking there isn't a learning curve: Dorian is the the fourth USC or UCLA quarterback, since 2009, to start straight out of high school. Those players--Matt Barkley, Rosen, Thompson-Robinson, JT Daniels--have now totaled 12 losses with a lot of 2018 left to play.[/membership]