Wilner Hotline: Eight need-to-knows for Week Nine of Pac-12 football

Arizona Sports News online

Story by Jon Wilner 

Eight need-to-knows for Week Nine of the Pac-12 football season …

1. At some point this weekend, the Pac-12 will announce kickoff times and TV networks for two key games next weekend: Oregon-Washington and USC-Arizona State.

Welcome to the stretch run, where schedule uncertainty moves in lockstep with game stakes.

As part of their $3 billion contract with the conference, ESPN and Fox have the right to place four games (two per network) on what’s known as a six-day hold — meaning, they don’t release the kickoff time until the weekend before the game.

Two six-day holds have been used thus far. That leaves two for the final three weekends.

ESPN and Fox aren’t required to use the full allotment, but they usually do. Their goal is to broadcast the best matchups possible during the month of peak interest, November.

Waiting for the results of the previous week’s games gives them the best chance to put the top games in the premium broadcast windows.

Yes, it creates difficult logistics. Oregon fans planning to make the five-hour drive from Eugene to Husky Stadium for the Nov. 6 game won’t know until this weekend if the Ducks are playing at 12:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.

But the networks paid for the option, and there is nothing the Pac-12 can do until the next media right cycle begins in the fall of 2024.

The six-day holds undoubtedly will be part of the contract negotiations. The conference must strike the right balance with terms that attain maximum revenue but are fan-friendly, as well.

Those goals are often incompatible.

2. Three teams are sitting on five wins and would become bowl-eligible with a victory this weekend: Arizona State, Oregon State and UCLA.

The Beavers haven’t gone bowling since 2013; UCLA’s drought dates only to 2017; the Sun Devils made an appearance in 2019.

To this point, only one team, Oregon (6-1), has clinched a postseason berth.

3. Utah is retiring the No. 22 on Saturday to honor former teammates Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe, who passed away in December and September, respectively.

Both were killed by gunshots. Jordan’s was self-inflicted but accidental; Lowe was shot at a house party.

It’s the first time the Utes have retired a number.

4. Stanford coach David Shaw is one victory from tying USC’s Howard Jones for fifth place on the career victory list (for conference wins only).

Shaw has 64 wins since taking over the Cardinal program in 2011.

After Jones comes another USC legend, John McKay, with 70 league wins.

Shaw doesn’t have enough games remaining to catch McKay this season. Most likely, his 71st would come in October of next year.

Former UCLA coach Terry Donahue holds the Pac-12 record with 98 conference wins.

5. Teams currently ranked in the AP top 25 poll, by Power Five conference:

SEC: six
Big Ten: five
Big 12: four
ACC: two
Pac-12: one

6. Oregon has won 16 consecutive home games, the third-longest active streak in the country behind only Clemson (31) and Cincinnati (24) 

The Ducks haven’t lost in Autzen Stadium since Sept. 22, 2018. The opponent: Stanford (of course).

7. USC receiver Drake London has 79 receptions in seven games.

If he maintains that pace (11.3 per game) through the rest of the regular season, London would set the conference single-season record.

The current record holder is Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, who caught 128 passes in 2013.

8. Only six teams rank in the top 25 nationally in rushing offense and rushing defense:

Army, Air Force, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Oregon State.

Support the Hotline: Receive three months of unlimited access for just 99 cents. Yep, that’s 99 cents for 90 days, with the option to cancel anytime. Details are here, and thanks for your support.

*** Send suggestions, comments and tips (confidentiality guaranteed) to pac12hotline@bayareanewsgroup.com or call 408-920-5716

*** Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline

*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.