Will the Apple Cup Serve as Pac-12 North Title Game?
Both Washington (9-0, 6-0) and Washington State (7-2, 6-0) are ranked, both have won seven or more games in a row and both of them stand at the top of the Pac-12 North undefeated in conference play. Why are the two teams so good? The immediate answer is their quarterbacks.
Huskies’ sophomore quarterback Jake Browning is ranked second on ESPN’s Heisman watch list as he’s carved up defenses with his arm strength and efficiency throwing the football accurately. Junior Luke Falk of Washington State has steered the Cougars into the third best passing offense in the country with his second best in the nation 3,237 passing yards. The two QB’s had a monstrous weekend. Browning had his second six-touchdown game of the season and totaled a flawless 98.1 quarterback rating roaring past California 66-27. Falk mustered his fifth four or more touchdown game of the season and completed 91.4 percent of his passes in the Cougars’ immaculate 69-7 win over Arizona.
The two teams meet in Pullman, Wash on Friday Nov. 25. It is not guaranteed that the two will be undefeated in conference play for the Apple Cup, but it is likely and will serve as possibly the greatest matchup in the Pac-12 regular season.
USC Trojans (6-3, 5-2) Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop.
Just as Southern California’s Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Can’t Stop” was quick to become one of their best hits, Southern California and its freshman quarterback Sam Darnold have caught Trojan fans’ ears ringing this season.
Darnold totaled 309 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against Oregon (3-6, 1-3) in USC’s 45-20 win, but his defense is what stood out the most. While USC gained 579 yards of total offense, the Oregon Ducks fell flat at 288, which is over 200 yards below their season average. Oregon’s freshman phenom Justin Herbert finally contained. After his first three starts with multiple touchdowns, he settled for just one TD as he completed a season-worst 54.5 percent of his passes.
After its 45-20 home win over Oregon, USC seriously has a chance to win the Pac-12 South. Utah did not play, which allowed for the Trojans to leap into second place just a half game behind Colorado. Next week’s matchup against Washington will play as the biggest game of the season for upset minded USC.
Utah, USC or Colorado. Who wins the Pac-12 South?
Since the Utes and Buffaloes joined the conference in 2011, neither team has won the conference championship or even made it to the Pac-12 Championship game. USC, on the other hand, has won 38 conference championships, totaling for the most in the Pac-12.
Best chance: Colorado. Not only are the Buffaloes the lone one loss team in the Pac-12 South, ESPN has predicted the Buffaloes a 75.4 percent chance at winning out. Washington State and Utah pose as the biggest threats on the Buffaloes’ schedule, but both of those games are at home where Colorado has yet to lose this season. The Buffaloes haven’t went bowling since 2007 and are on pace to have a shot to possibly play in School’s first ever Rose Bowl.
Still in the Race: Utah. If everything goes as planned for the Utes beating Arizona State on the road, then Oregon at home, a win against Colorado ensures a trip to the Pac-12 championship game. Colorado is predicted a 76.9 percent chance to win at home against Utah on Nov. 25, but anything could happen in a rivalry game.
Worst Chance: USC. The Trojans dug themselves in a huge hole this season after starting it 1-3. Now, USC has won five games straight and are in the Pac-12 South title conversation. With two conference losses, USC must win out. Two road games against undefeated Washington and fierce rival UCLA will be tough for the Trojans to come out on top.
Pac-12 Football in the Rankings
Though the College Football Playoff rankings are not released until Tuesday Nov. 8, the AP polls have been released. USC just missed receiving 76 votes ranking at No. 26. Here are the teams who made the cut:
No. 4 Washington: A statement 66-27 win over California did not move the Huskies in the AP Poll, but should bump Washington up to either third or fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings.
No. 13 Utah: After a bye week, the Utes jumped up three spots. They ranked at sixteenth in the Playoff Rankings and are likely to move up after four ranked teams ahead of them lost this week.
No. 16 Colorado: A 20-10 win against UCLA should keep the Buffaloes ahead of the Utes in the College Playoff Rankings for a second week in a row.
No. 23 Washington State: The Cougars opened some eyeballs after a 69-7 over Arizona. Last week, the Playoff Rankings had them at No. 25, and they should surely jump further into the rankings this week.