Five need-to-knows in Pac-12 football for Week 11 …
1. CFP update
All three teams with one loss and designs on the College Football Playoff are at home and heavily favored to improve their records to 9-1.
USC hosts Colorado on Friday night, UCLA welcomes Arizona on Saturday night and, in the marquee game of the weekend, Oregon hosts its bitter rival, Washington, in the premium window on Saturday afternoon.
It has been 17 years since three teams started 9-1: Oregon, UCLA and USC all won nine of their first 10 games in the 2005 season, according to the conference office.
(In other words, this would mark the first time in the expansion era.)
Notably, the Ducks are favored by 13.5 points over an opponent (UW) that has seven wins and is ranked 25th by the CFP selection committee.
It’s the series’ largest point spread in favor of Oregon since the Ducks were 20-point favorites over the Huskies in the 2014 season — and won by 25.
This time of year, results from all quadrants of the country carry playoff ramifications.
The Pac-12 needs the following results on Saturday (with CFP rankings):
— Texas to beat No. 4 TCU (9-0), so the Big 12 does not produce an undefeated champion.
— Alabama to beat No. 11 Mississippi (8-1), so the Rebels cannot finish as a one-loss SEC champion.
— Louisville to beat No. 10 Clemson (8-1), so the Tigers cannot finish as a one-loss ACC champion.
— Mississippi State to beat No. 1 Georgia (9-0), so the Bulldogs cannot finish as a one-loss SEC runner-up.
— Notre Dame (6-3) to beat Navy, in order to add credibility to USC’s resume if the Trojans win the regular-season finale.
3. Bowl math
The Pac-12 has six bowl-eligible teams, and a seventh can clinch this weekend.
If Washington State beats Arizona State, the Cougars will collect their sixth win and secure a bowl berth for the seventh consecutive (non-COVID) season.
A loss wouldn’t doom WSU, however. The Cougars must win one of their final three games. After ASU, they visit Arizona (3-6) and host Washington (7-2).
WSU will be either favored or a narrow underdog in both.
Meanwhile, four teams (Arizona, Arizona State, Cal and Stanford) have zero margin for error. They must win their final three games to become bowl-eligible.
Because of upcoming rivalry games, the Territorial Cup and the Big Game, only two of the four teams can win out.
4. The gauntlet continues
No team in the conference, and perhaps the country, has experienced a schedule stretch as difficult as Arizona, which faces a top-25 team (UCLA) for the fifth consecutive week.
Here’s the list, with the opponent’s current CFP ranking and Arizona’s result:
vs. No. 6 Oregon: 49-22 loss
at No. 25 Washington: 49-39 loss
vs. No. 8 USC: 45-37 loss
at No. 13 Utah: 45-20 loss
at No. 12 UCLA: on Saturday
The Wildcats conclude the season against Washington State and Arizona State, with both games at home.
5. Notes and nuggets …
— Colorado has never beaten USC and last defeated a top-10 team in 2007 (Oklahoma).
— Cal, which visits Oregon State, has not won a game outside the Bay Area since the end of the 2019 season (at UCLA).
— The Beavers are 6-0 this season against teams not currently in the CFP rankings.
— Oregon has won 23 consecutive home games, the third-longest streak in the FBS behind Clemson and Cincinnati.
— Utah defensive end Van Fillinger, one of the top pass rushers in the conference, will miss the remainder of the season with an injury.
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