Who to buy, sell, hold on, and simply throw away...
Another strong weekend for the nation’s second best league as they now have two top ten teams and USC knocking on the door. Stanford also got back in the win column and of course Arizona State, the team I have been driving the bandwagon for weeks now, won again.
Hopefully this isn’t your first time check out the Pac 12 stock report, but if it is...The above chart is 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 State
Buying - Oregon
Another week, another blowout. This time they took it to Washington, 52-21. The same Husky team that just came off a huge win over Stanford and was nationally ranked. The Ducks give up 20 points per game (32nd in the nation) but that needs a major footnote, so here it is:
- Arkansas State: 34 points, 14 in the fourth quarter when trailing 57-20
- Fresno State: 25 points, 19 in the second half when trailing 35-6 at the half. 7 of those 19 came at the end of the game when trailing 42-19
- Tennessee Tech: 14 points, 7 late in the third quarter when trailing 49-7
- Washington State: played a great first half to keep it close but was torched in the second half. A cosmetic score came late in the fourth when trailing 51-19
- Washington: 14 second half points when the lead had already been pushed to 38-7. The fourth quarter score came when trailing 52-14
As you can see, those 20 points per game sound a lot worse than they really are. These Ducks have never given up points when it mattered, outside a bit of a slow start to Washington State.
At this point, I really don’t need to talk about UO’s offense. Well, if I must...300 yards of rushing per game and over 52 points a game is video game football. Oh, they also average 240 passing yards per game. When 450 yards of offense is under average for a team, that is just silly.
Buying - Oregon State
How much does Sean Mannion’s injury take the shine off of the Beavers moving forward? Not much, actually. They have a top 25 defense and his injury is reportedly a week to week healing process, meaning he could be back in about a month. For safe measures let’s say he misses six weeks. Their next six opponents: @ BYU (beatable), Utah (big upset if they lose), @ Washington (beatable), Arizona State (tough, but it is in Corvallis), @ Stanford (tough regardless of who was going to be under center).
Let’s put on our pessimistic hat and say they split those games against the two from Utah, split the UW/ASU games, and drop the Stanford game. That is still 6-3 just one offseason removed from 3-9. Incredible. Oh, and that seventh opponent? The Civil War with Oregon. Perfect timing Mr. Mannion. I don’t know why I made him a Bond Villain right there.
Buying - USC
Holding - Arizona
Holding - Stanford
The Cardinal has probably been the hardest Pac 12 team to get a good read on. They have the potential to make the title game when they play like they did against USC, but then they had the massive let down in Seattle, followed by a horrible defensive effort against Arizona.
Josh Nunes has progressed very nicely, and the Cardinal will still be a factor down the stretch. For Stanford to make the championship game they must win out--which includes a trip to Eugene--because as it looks now, Oregon will not be losing anytime soon.
Holding - UCLA
The Cal game was a brutal loss, but it was a must win for the Golden Bears and like it. The Bruins simply couldn't respond. Thankfully for the Powder Blue and Gold faithful, four of the final six are in Pasadena (can they for the love of god get some people to turn out?!) and of that group, Arizona and Utah are on the schedule. Those are very winnable games.
Another softer date for the Bruins is up in the Palouse to take on Wazzu. Sure, the hot start left many fans excited, but the fact is this team can still make a bowl game and is one of the younger teams in the league. Jim Mora has proven already that he is the right man for the job as this team is playing with a fire that hasn’t been seen in Westwood for a while.
Holding - Washington
Oregon makes everyone look bad, so let’s not write the Huskies off quite yet. They still have USC and OSU left (both in Seattle), but other than those two games, the toughest bit of schedule is behind them. Yes Arizona, Cal, Colorado and Washington State are all on the road, but they should still win their fair share of those games. They also get Utah at home.
A bowl looks like a lock, now the question is if they can get to the Alamo Bowl. Speaking of that, when did the Alamo Bowl become the second best Pac 12 bowl? I remember in the 1990s and early 2000s it was always the fourth Pac 12 team and the fifth Big Ten team. Good for that bowl’s organizers and shame on the Holiday Bowl for slipping. Yes, you did read that right, I just used valuable space in this post to call out bowl organizers.
Oh, how does UW get the second best bowl? Well Oregon makes the BCS title game, the loser of the title game (or Stanford, depending on how things shake out) makes the Rose Bowl. This scenario would let a sleeper like Washington make it to San Antonio.
Selling - Cal
Selling - Utah
I previously stated that Cal may be the most disappointing team in the Pac 12 this year, but then again, maybe things in Berkley aren’t as bad as Salt Lake City.
Utah had high hopes for this season coming off an 8-win year, which included a nice bowl win over Georgia Tech. Instead, 2012 has turned into a nightmare. At 0-2 in the league, all the Utes can hope for now is to play "spoiler."
A bowl game is still a possibility now that the schedule is a little easier, but this team needs to show a lot of improvement. They are 102nd in passing, 112th in rushing and 89th in scoring. Those numbers work in college hoops with nearly 400 teams...not so much on the gridiron.
Selling - Washington State
Well, the Cougars can claim moral victories the last two times they’ve hit the field and with Oregon and OSU behind them, things get easier.
An optimist would say getting Cal, UCLA and the Apple Cup all in the friendly confines of Pullman means there is a chance for WSU to get to five wins; which would mean the Cougars only need to steal one on the road (Stanford, Utah, ASU remain) to become bowl eligible. It sounds crazy, but this team is showing more fight in them under Leach than they have in the past.
In a league where collapses are common (Arizona and ASU last year) and rebirth a year later (a la Oregon State), why can’t WSU have a little bit of both in a single season? Crazier things have happened.
Worthless - Colorado
There has been a common trend among the last few teams: the schedule is getting easier. Well, that trend ends here.
From October 11 through November 3, the Buffs play Arizona State, @USC, @Oregon and Stanford. To kick off this horrible stretch is my Pac 12 darling Sun Devils on this Saturday.
Let’s say they lose these four games (most likely they will), but they come out of the other end still hungry to compete. Next up is @Arizona, Washington and Utah. Even if they sweep their final three games, which they probably won't, they would be 4-8, with a blowout loss to Fresno, a loss to an FCS team and a loss to in-state rival Colorado State on their resume. The Rams, by the way, haven’t won since beating the Buffs. The fact is that even with an improbable final flourish to win those three games, this was a horrible season for Colorado. Spoiler alert: CU isn’t winning those final games. Sorry to good folks in Boulder for getting your hopes up in those final few sentences. My bad.
Pac 12 Stock Report >> Week 5