State of the Pac-12 – Can any team run the table to reach the College Football Playoff?


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STANFORD, Calif. — At the height of its powers, roughly a decade ago, the Stanford-Oregon football game was a major sporting event. It didn’t just resonate on the West Coast; it was one of the most meaningful games on the college football calendar.

Stanford had inexplicably morphed into a bully under Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw, while Chip Kelly revolutionized offensive football at Oregon, fielding some of the most explosive teams the sport had ever seen. From 2010 to 2014, each version carried national title implications. Usually played in November, there were multiple Heisman Trophy candidates, several future NFL stars and the game day atmospheres reflected those stakes.

The Cardinal and Ducks commanded national respect. They showed what the conference can be, and as USC dealt with crippling sanctions, it wasn’t crazy to envision an even brighter future once the Trojans came out on the other side.

That future, of course, has not materialized, with Stanford’s 31-24 overtime win against then-No. 3 Oregon on Saturday serving as the latest sobering reminder of the Pac-12’s bleak state of affairs. Once a national advertisement for the conference, the game had the opposite effect: It exposed the Ducks as overrated and showcased a stadium environment more fitting for a meaningless FCS game.

With one loss, Oregon isn’t completely out of the College Football Playoff picture, but nothing about the way it has played the past two weeks indicates a capability of running the table. The Ducks’ win at Ohio State on Sept. 11 led to inflated expectations, and while the loss to Stanford is the source of immediate disappointment, it should still be noted the program remains on an impressive upward trajectory.

But look around the conference, and there isn’t much else to be optimistic about.

Arizona State, which lost to BYU, might be good. The Sun Devils demoralized UCLA, 42-23, on Saturday and have established themselves as the favorite in the Pac-12 South. However, with the…



Source : espn


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