Pac-12 early-season outlook
September, 30, 2012
By Johnny Curren | ESPN.com
Scott Olmos/US PresswireDe'Anthony Thomas has Oregon on top of the Pac-12 with dreams of a national championship.The 2012 Pac-12 football season has been unpredictable to say the least, with upsets and surprise performances completely shaking up the landscape on a weekly basis. Here’s a look at how the race to the conference championship game is shaping up so far, and just where the Trojans fit into it all.
Pac-12 North Standings
Oregon (2-0 Pac-12, 5-0 overall)
Oregon State (2-0 Pac-12, 3-0 overall)
Washington (1-0 Pac-12, 3-1 overall)
Stanford (1-1 Pac-12, 3-1 overall)
Washington State (0-2 Pac-12, 2-3 overall)
California (0-2 Pac-12, 1-4 overall)
North Division Breakdown:
Here we are five weeks into the season, and just about the only constant has been the standout play by North Division leader Oregon. With an explosive offense led by running backs De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner, the Ducks haven’t seriously been challenged by anyone.
What is a bit stunning is how the chips have fallen within the rest of the division. Oregon State came up with another huge win against Arizona on Saturday, and the Beavers have emerged as one of the surprise stories in all of college football. What was particularly impressive in the Beavers’ most recent victory was the way the ground game came alive to support the standout play of quarterback Sean Mannion. It’s still too early, but it’s hard not to look ahead to that November 24 Civil War matchup between Oregon and Oregon State, and just imagine what it could mean.
Like the Beavers, Washington controls its own destiny after a 17-13 victory over Stanford that completely changed the outlook of the division. The Huskies face Oregon this Saturday in what is now a pivotal game. Meanwhile, a Stanford team that upset USC just two weeks ago, now needs to win out in Pac-12 play, and see Washington lose at least two conference games, in order to win the North.
Pac-12 South Standings
Arizona State (2-0 Pac-12, 4-1 overall)
UCLA (1-1 Pac-12, 4-1 overall)
USC (1-1 Pac-12, 3-1 overall)
Colorado (1-1 Pac-12, 1-4 overall)
Utah (0-1 Pac-12, 2-2 overall)
Arizona (0-2 Pac-12, 3-2 overall)
South Division Breakdown:
The Trojans still control their fate, with an important clash with Utah coming up on Thursday night. But the USC offense will need to come together and be more consistent if it's going to fend off a much stronger collection of South Division opponents than anyone ever imagined.
Arizona State sits atop the standings, although its conference victories have come against California and Utah -- two squads that have struggled so far. But with a high-scoring offense and a defense that currently ranks No. 1 in the conference in total yards allowed, the Sun Devils shouldn't be overlooked. ASU and the Trojans meet up on Nov. 10 in Los Angeles.
Like USC, UCLA is 1-1 in conference play, and the turnaround in Westwood under Jim Mora Jr. has been dramatic. Since the Bruins’ only loss came at the hands of Oregon State out of the North, they too can determine their own future. The November 17 crosstown rivalry game with the Trojans could have extra meaning this year.
Picked to finish No. 2 in the Pac-12 preseason poll, Utah has underperformed, but it’s important to note that the Utes miss both Oregon and Stanford on this year’s schedule, so a turnaround is possible.
Colorado is theoretically still in the mix, although its 1-4 record doesn’t exactly instill confidence. And a talented Arizona team is unexpectedly in the cellar of the division.
Key Pac-12 games:
Washington at Oregon
USC at Washington
Oregon at Arizona State
UCLA at Arizona State
Oregon State @ Washington
Oregon at USC
Arizona State at Oregon State
Arizona State at USC
Oregon State at Stanford
Stanford at Oregon
USC at UCLA
Oregon at Oregon State
Stanford at UCLA
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35