Which teams are paying dividends, and which are going down in flames?
When the Pac-10 became the Pac-12 and introduced a title game, this has to be the best case scenario conference commissioners envisioned. With just two weeks to go, nothing has been settled. Oregon has to take on Stanford and Oregon State. A loss in either would probably ruin their national title hopes, but the loss to Stanford would give the edge to the Cardinal to make the Rose. Can you believe Oregon, with such a high BCS ranking, doesn’t even have the North wrapped up yet?
Down South, a similar story. UCLA is 5-2 and peaking but its next game is against 5-3 USC. After that they take on Stanford. So to sum up the league: there are a lot of good teams and nothing has been decided yet.
Hopefully this isn’t your first time checking out the Pac-12 stock report, but if it is ... The above chart illustrates the Power Rankings of the Pac-12, similar to what I do for the Big Ten. The buying/holding/selling stock in a team is relative to preseason expectations, making a better bowl, or surprising the league and competing for a division title. Just because I’m buying a lot of stock in a team doesn’t mean I think they are better than USC or Oregon. Now that we are all in sync, let’s get after it!
Buying - Arizona Wildcats
The Wildcats clinched bowl eligibility with a 25-point rout of woeful Colorado (it would have been more if not for 14 fourth quarter points by the Buffs in garbage time). With 366 yards (a school and league record) rushing the ball, sophomore Ka’Deem Carey’s solid season could turn into something pretty impressive. He is already nearing 1,400 yards and has 18 touchdowns with two games and a bowl left to pad that.
I really hate making these types of predictions, but I will make an exception for Carey. He needs to be on the Heisman watch list at the start of next season.
Buying - The entire state of Oregon
Sure, OSU dropped another game and had its Pac-12 North hopes all but dashed thanks to Stanford, but they are 7-2 and will probably do no worse than 9-3. Not bad at all for a 3-9 club a year ago. Throw in some of the injury issues, and the job Mike Riley has done is phenomenal.
Over in Eugene it is business as usual for the Ducks. Already up at the half, Oregon comes out guns blazing to just humiliate Cal. They need to beat Stanford to wrap up the North but obviously their gaze is on a little bit bigger prize. It is probably a good thing that they are taking on Stanford and Oregon State to end the season. If they had already clinched the North and was taking on someone decent but not overly impressive (an ASU or Washington type) a chance at an upset would be higher, in the humble opinion of yours truly.
Buying - Stanford Cardinal
They still control their own destiny for Pasadena. The Cardinal take on Oregon this week and will go into that battle a little bit differently than most teams do. Up to this point most have tried to outrun the Ducks, assuming they can’t be stopped--aka--the USC method.
Stanford (and OSU the following week) are the two most defensively minded teams in the league, and ranked up there nationally, too. It will be interesting to see if this method works any better against Kelly’s juggernaut.
Buying - The Entirety of Los Angeles
UCLA, with eight wins and controlling their own fate in the South, is dumbfounding. Doing it with a freshman quarterback and a new coach in Jim Mora makes the season bordering on storybook. To complete the fairy tale, they’ll win the Battle of LA and take their crack at Oregon. How stunning would that be? Knock off USC, take down Stanford, spoil Oregon and go 11-2 before playing in the Rose Bowl against a weak Big Ten team - possibly even Nebraska, a team they've already beaten.
Anyway, across town USC will have something to say about the Cinderella story. They too control their own fate in the South. It might not be what they expected, but to send Barkley and the other seniors out with a trip to the Rose Bowl wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. The Trojans need to start better against the Bruins though. Against Arizona State they were asleep for the first 30 minutes and it could have cost them against better competition. Worse, UCLA has been a fast starting team. Unfortunately kickoff is scheduled for noon, so it may prove tougher to shake the cobwebs off. As much as it would stun USC Nation and get plenty of press nationwide, I think the Bruins can win this thing and it won’t be a stunner for me.
Buying - Washington Huskies
I said it earlier that the Huskies would benefit from one of the easiest home stretches in the nation. Well they have taken full advantage of it, winning three straight to get to 6-4. With Colorado and the Apple Cup (with in-state rival Washington State) left, there is a real chance this club is 8-4 with a decent bowl to look forward to.
Holding - Arizona State Sun Devils
Yes they played four good teams in a row, but they still went 0-4 the last month of ball. They need to wrap up bowl eligibility this week against awful Washington State because the way they are playing defensively, I don’t know how they can knock off their in-state rival Wildcats in the finale.
I’m not going to sell Sparky yet because they did start 5-1 and they welcome a lot of new faces to the program, including a new head coach. The start was fun to watch and I’ll admit to it, I sipped a lot of maroon kool-aid.
Holding - Utah Utes
Hey don’t look now but the Utes just need to upset Arizona this week and take care of things against terrible Colorado to slip into a bowl game. I don’t think they will, but beating Cal and WSU before dropping that Washington game did bring some life back to the Utes who have lost this season more to the injury bug than poor play/coaching.
Selling - Cal Golden Bears
A strong finish could have potentially saved Tedford (and that is a huge maybe) but the Bears lost again and are now 3-8 with a road trip to angry Oregon State in the finale. As good a guy as Jeff is, the fact is the school invested a lot in this program and for their all-time winningest coach to deliver a 3-9 stinker of a season will be too much for the boosters to take.
Dumpster Fires - Washington State and Colorado
I’m not sure which is the worst. Colorado did beat WSU but has horrible numbers and suffered more blowouts. WSU has two wins to the Buffs’ one but with the recent allegations, things clearly haven’t gone the way anyone in Pullman would have liked.
It's going to be awhile until either of these two dumpster fires quit stinking up the field.
Latest from around Gamedayr >> Now that we’re all caught up in the Pac-12, check out who balled out in the SEC on Saturday.