Instant reaction to Pac-12 developments on the field …

1. Hype met, attention warranted

The most anticipated Saturday of the conference season — in many conference seasons — more than met expectations with two three-point thrillers.

In the primetime showdown, USC outlasted UCLA 48-45, thanks to a Heisman Trophy-level performance by quarterback Caleb Williams.

In the nightcap, Oregon held off Utah 20-17 as quarterback Bo Nix played through an injury to generate just enough offense.

(Of note: The losing quarterbacks, UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Utah’s Cam Rising, threw three interceptions.)

All in all, the doubleheader perfectly reflected the Pac-12 season thus far.

It has more teams in the College Football Playoff rankings (six) than any other — that should hold through next week’s rankings — and an impressive array of riveting conference matchups:

USC 17, OSU 14
WSU 44, Oregon 41
Utah 43, USC 42
Oregon 45, UCLA 30
Washington 24, OSU 21
Washington 37, Oregon 34
USC 48, UCLA 45
Oregon 20, Utah 17

It has been years since the conference produced so many taut, high-level games — or had so many quality teams.

That comes at a price, of course: The bottom feeders have been bludgeoned repeatedly and were effectively eliminated from bowl contention weeks ago.

But it’s a fair trade, in our view. The Pac-12 desperately needed to reclaim national respect, which could only be accomplished with heavyweight teams.

This was the ideal year for parity to disappear.

2. Bound for Las Vegas

USC clinched a berth in the Pac-12 championship game in Las Vegas while eliminating UCLA from the race.

Three teams remain alive for the second spot:

— Oregon clinches a berth with a victory over Oregon State or a loss to the Beavers and a Washington loss to WSU.

— Washington has a chance to reach Las Vegas, as well, but it’s tricky. In addition to winning the Apple Cup, the Huskies need Oregon to lose to OSU and UCLA to lose to Cal. (There’s another path for UW, but it involves Colorado beating Utah, which isn’t happening.)

— Utah would reach the title game with a win over Colorado and victories by Washington, UCLA and OSU. That set of  results would create a three-team tie with UW and Oregon and trigger the fourth tiebreaker, which involves the combined winning percentage in conference games of conference opponents.

In that scenario, the Utes would have the edge.

3. USC and the CFP

The Trojans (10-1) are the Pac-12’s only remaining playoff contender, and they took a giant step Saturday toward breaking the conference’s …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


Saturday Night Five: USC survives and remains alive (in the CFP chase), Oregon outlasts Utah, plus tiebreaker scenarios and bowl math

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