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Pac-12 Football: Week 13 in Review

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Colorado who? Yes, they are in the championship and the Pac-12 is likely to send just six teams to bowl games.

NCAA Football: Utah at Colorado
Colorado football fans rush Folsom Field in a 27-22 win over Utah.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Earns First Championship Game Birth: How’d They Get There?

The Buffaloes did what many believed was impossible.

Colorado got no love. The Buffaloes were predicted to finish dead last in the Pac-12 South with a 0.8 percent chance at winning their division.

Here’s a quick summary of the unlikelihood of the Buffaloes’ season: They broke a five-game losing streak to Oregon, seven-game skid to Arizona State, five straight loses to Stanford, a five-game losing streak to UCLA, eclipsed a four game losing streak to Arizona, and a clinched a trip to the Pac-12 Championship beating Utah, who they previously had lost four games straight to.

Colorado isn’t done yet, looking to beat the Huskies on Friday night. A team they’ve lost to six meetings in a row and haven’t beaten them since coach Rick Neuheisel and the Big 12 Buffaloes defeated Washington 33-21 in the 1996 Holiday bowl.

Pac-12 Championship Game: Who Wins?

No. 9 Colorado (10-2, 8-1) vs. No. 5 Washington (11-1, 8-1) 7 p.m., Dec. 2, FOX —- ESPN Matchup Predictor: Washington 71.7%

The numbers in these statistics are ridiculous. Both teams average over 34 points a game, while allowing just under 19. Washington and Colorado both average over 469 yards of offense per game and have held offenses to below an average of 330. This should be an exciting defensive contest.

The Buffaloes’s defense is led by its pass attack. Somehow they held Washington State’s junior QB Luke Falk to a 52.6 QBR and 325 passing yards forcing an interception. This week, they face sophomore Jake Browning who only No. 12 USC (9-3, 7-2) could beat. Washington’s pass game is effective, but unlike Washington State, their run game is what makes them so unpredictable. They carry the ball over 200 yards per game and can that could work as the difference maker in this grind-out battle in Santa Clara.

Final Prediction: Washington 34, Colorado 27

In a More Lopsided Pac-12 Season, Less Teams Bowl, More Teams Ranked

After last year’s season that sent a record 10 teams to a bowl game, the Pac-12 might just send six. It would be the first time in five seasons that the Pac-12 would send less than eight teams.

Though more teams went bowling last season, 2016’s College football Playoff featured four teams outside the Pac-12 conference. This season, Washington and Colorado have a shot and there’s even been talks of USC.

In a year with more dominance though, the Pac-12 has five teams in the rankings and will send the absolute best of the conference to bowl games. If one team makes the College Football Playoff, then another would be in the Rose Bowl and the remaining would play top-tier bowl games against excellent programs. Last year the Pac-12 went 6-4 in the postseason, this year, the conference may go undefeated.

NBC Sports’s Pac-12 Bowl Predictions:

College Football Playoff: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Washington

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. USC

Holiday Bowl: Iowa vs. Stanford

Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Colorado

Sun Bowl: North Carolina vs. Utah

Foster Farms Bowl: Indiana vs. Washington State

Here are the rest of the bowl predictions after Week 13