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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

October 14, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Resolution in the Pac-12, and a look at what’s ahead . . .

 

With the past two weeks of Pac-12 football, it feels as though we have a much clearer idea of the general picture: Who’s a realistic contender for the league title, who has a puncher’s chance at a bowl game, who’s essentially just building for 2014. Teams like Washington, Stanford and WSU, for instance, have a more definitive idea what faces them than they did at the end of September, which can be sort of an illusory month.

First, the Pac-12’s bowl tieups and dates, followed by each team’s remaining schedule and a synopsis of where they stand:

Rose: Jan. 1 (Opponent — Big Ten)

Alamo: Dec. 30 (Big 12)

Holiday: Dec. 30 (Big 12)

Sun: Dec. 31 (ACC)

Las Vegas: Dec. 21 (Mountain West)

Fight Hunger: Dec. 27 (Navy)

New Mexico: Dec. 21 (Mountain West)

Arizona

Oct. 19             Utah

Oct. 26            At Colorado

Nov. 2             At California

Nov. 9             UCLA

Nov. 16           WSU

Nov. 23           Oregon

Nov. 30           At Arizona State

Summing up: The Wildcats are sort of an unsatisfying 3-2, having clubbed three overmatched opponents and lost two Pac-12 games to Washington and USC. A win over Utah this week would set them up to get bowl-eligible the following two weeks against the league’s two worst teams. If they don’t get it Saturday, Arizona and WSU could well be fighting for bowl viability Nov. 16 in Tucson.

Arizona State

Oct. 19             Washington

Oct. 31             At WSU

Nov. 9             At Utah

Nov. 16           Oregon State

Nov. 23           At UCLA

Nov. 30           Arizona

Summing up: Sun Devils came through a four-game gauntlet at 2-2 and stand 4-2 overall, 2-1 in league. Given undefeated UCLA’s tough schedule in the near-term, ASU still harbors a decent shot at the Pac-12 South title, which probably rides on the Nov. 23 game at UCLA. First, ASU must deal with what figure to be two treacherous games against the Washington schools.

California

Oct. 19             Oregon State

Oct. 26             At Washington

Nov. 2             Arizona

Nov. 9             USC

Nov. 16           At Colorado

Nov. 23           At Stanford

Summing up: The Sonny Dykes launch has been mostly a competitive disaster for Cal, the most injured team in the league. They stand a shot at getting the No. 1 draft pick next spring (whoops, that’s another league). Bears have a future with QB Jared Goff, but they haven’t beaten an FBS team in a calendar year, and the game at Colorado seems the only logical place they’ll get one in 2013.

Colorado

Oct. 19             Charleston Southern

Oct. 26             Arizona

Nov. 2             At UCLA

Nov. 9             At Washington

Nov. 16           California

Nov. 23           USC

Nov.                At Utah

Summing up: The early signs of competitiveness under first-year coach Mike MacIntyre have wilted under the reality of a grinding league schedule.  Buffs have turned quarterback over to true-freshman QB Sefo Liufau of Bellarmine, so they’re pointing to the future and accepting the growing pains.

Oregon

Oct. 19             Washington State

Oct. 26             UCLA

Nov. 7             At Stanford

Nov. 16           Utah

Nov. 23           At Arizona

Nov. 29           Oregon State

Summing up: Who might beat the 6-0 Ducks? UCLA? Stanford? I’m thinking nobody, including Alabama. The performance Saturday at Husky Stadium was very impressive, coming without a great player in De’Anthony Thomas and against a lot of other challenges.

Oregon State

Oct. 19             At California

Oct. 26            Stanford

Nov. 1             USC

Nov. 16           At Arizona State

Nov. 23           Washington

Nov. 29           At Oregon

Summing up: Beavers, 5-1, have rebounded nicely from their opening loss to Eastern Washington and can take care of bowl eligibility Saturday against Cal. There are several other possible wins in there as well, so something like another Alamo or Holiday Bowl is out there. Sean Mannion  (25 TDs, 3 interceptions) is very good and until somebody gets pressure on him, he’ll continue to put up lights-out numbers.

Stanford

Oct. 19             UCLA

Oct. 26             At Oregon State

Nov. 7             Oregon

Nov. 16           At USC

Nov. 23           California

Nov. 30           Notre Dame

Summing up: Cardinal is 5-1, having just been chastened by Utah after a near-death experience against Washington. QB Kevin Hogan has been merely OK, not great (12 TDs, four interceptions), and the Cardinal offense has looked pretty pedestrian. Crossroads game coming up Saturday against UCLA in a rematch of the Pac-12 title game of 2012.

UCLA

Oct. 19             At Stanford

Oct. 26             At Oregon

Nov. 2             Colorado

Nov. 9             At Arizona

Nov. 15           Washington

Nov. 23           Arizona State

Nov. 30           At USC

  Summing up: Bruins, at 5-0, have the inside track on the Pac-12 South title, but check back in a couple of weeks. Question of whether RB Jordon James can play against the Cardinal is a big one, as is a line that required some patching when LT Torian White went out for the season. QB Brett Hundley has proven to be terrific, but how much can he do by himself?

USC

Oct. 19             At Notre Dame

Oct. 26             Utah

Nov. 1             At Oregon State

Nov. 9             At California

Nov. 16           Stanford

Nov. 23           At Colorado

Nov. 30           UCLA

  Summing up: I don’t think USC (4-2, 1-2) is good enough to slip in and steal the Pac-12 South; suddenly there are defensive creaks, as the Trojans have surrendered more than 1,100 yards the past two games. But at least they’ll be interesting, as the offense appears to have found some legs with Clay Helton calling plays. And the interim coach, Ed Orgeron, will keep things lively. Expect at least a couple of more losses.

Utah

Oct. 19            At Arizona

Oct. 26            At USC

Nov. 9             Arizona State

Nov. 16           At Oregon

Nov. 23           At WSU

Nov. 30           Colorado

Summing up: Utah (4-2) got a restorative win the other day against Stanford, but now begins to pay the price for the front-loaded home schedule, facing four of its next five opponents on the road. Every one of its remaining six looks like a challenge, save for possibly the finale against Colorado.

Washington

Oct. 19             At Arizona State

Oct. 26            California

Nov. 9             Colorado

Nov. 15           At UCLA

Nov. 23           At Oregon State

Nov. 29           Washington State

Summing up: Hard to overstate the importance of Saturday’s visit to Arizona State, which could mean a third straight defeat. Huskies (4-2, 1-2) look like they could finish anywhere between 7-2 in the league and 4-5. This team appears too good to be at the low end of that range.

WSU

Oct. 19             At Oregon

Oct. 31             Arizona State

Nov. 16           At Arizona

Nov. 23           Utah

Nov. 29           At Washington

  Summing up: The Cougars missed a good opportunity the other night against Oregon State and need to steal two victories to get bowl-eligible. It says here the Halloween-night game with Arizona State will determine that. Win it, and they’ll get there, lose and they probably wait until next year.

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