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The Pac-12 is underrated

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Is the Pac-12 a top conference? I think so.

Stanford v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The PAC-12 is underrated. After the recent CFB Playoff rankings, I feel as if the voters almost disrespects the PAC-12. The nation thinks that they lack top multiple powerhouse teams competing for the playoff, but in reality, the conference just beats themselves up. Last year, a mediocre Oregon team narrowly took Stanford out of playoff contention, and this year, Washington has avoided scares from Utah and Arizona while still having USC and Washington State up ahead. In the PAC-12, any team has a chance to beat the other, which brings plenty of excitement, but ultimately, that excitement hurts the conference, and the Pac-12 does not get the credit they deserve.

The PAC-12 is commonly labeled as a weak conference, which seems to hurt their rankings. Besides Washington, the conference is left with multiple teams who are on the fringe of the top twenty five and with teams who are having a down year. Colorado, Utah, and Washington State are all at the bottom half of the CFB poll and are all behind other two loss teams. I completely agree with Colorado’s ranking in the CFB poll. With two definitive loses and missing a marquee win, #15 in the nation is a fair ranking for the Buffaloes, but on a side note, Colorado would’ve had an opportunity to beat Michigan if not for starting quarterback Sefo Liufau getting hurt while the Buffaloes led the game going into halftime. Meanwhile, #16 Utah deserves to be higher after losing to Washington and Cal. They played #4 Washington down to the wire and lost on a punt return. The Utes lost their other game to Cal on a goal line stand. How much closer can two games get? Still, Utah is ranked behind two loss Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC teams. Why? Because they are a PAC-12 team. They are ranked behind Penn State, who did beat Ohio State but got demolished by Michigan and lost to unranked Pittsburgh. They are ranked behind Oklahoma, who lost Ohio State by twenty and a team now outside the top twenty five while their best win is against unranked TCU. Then, there are so many SEC teams ahead of Utah. Do you really believe that the fifth best SEC team is better than probably the second best PAC-12 team? I don’t, but somehow, at this moment, the CFB committee does. Lastly, Washington State started off extremely slow starting the year, which is why they are ranked at 25. They were written off early by myself and probably many others after starting the year with loses against Eastern Washington and Boise State, but the Cougars rose and are on a six game win streak. Washington State is a much better team than their ranking but will surely move up as the season continues. However, the PAC-12 is deeper than just 4 teams.

The PAC-12 has the best three loss team and for what it is worth the two best five loss teams in the country. Currently, USC sits at 5-3 but is playing like a one loss team. After switching quarterbacks, USC is dominating, but the nation still points out that they got dismantled by Alabama, defeated by Stanford, and narrowly beat by Utah. Sam Darnold has taken lead for the Trojans, and with the second best total quarterback rating in the nation ahead of Lamar Jackson, they surely would’ve beat either Stanford or Utah if he started from the beginning of the season. Yes, they would’ve still lost to Bama but would probably have only one or two losses right now and be ranked in the top 25.

UCLA and Oregon are sitting at 3-5 despite being competitive in almost every game. Specifically, UCLA has been a victim of a tough PAC-12 conference and injuries. UCLA forced overtime and could’ve beat Texas A&M, the second best team in the SEC, and apparently 4th best team in the country, on the road. Then UCLA started conference play with a close loss to Stanford, and two weeks later, UCLA started a three game losing streak that they still haven’t snapped. All games were played down to the wire, and the games versus Washington State and Utah were both played without star quarterback Josh Rosen. Still even without Rosen, UCLA played two top twenty five teams as if they were one. At 3-5, UCLA might not end up bowl eligible, yet they play like a top 25 team.

Then, there’s Oregon, who shares a similar story with UCLA. Oregon lost their first game to #10 Nebraska in a nail bitter. Playing without star running back Royce Freeman for most of the game, Oregon was stopped on the final drive and lost 35-32 on the road. After that game, Oregon has lost to three other top twenty five teams and Cal. Beyond the top twenty five teams, the PAC-12 has teams not getting enough credit.

Want to talk about a team getting absolutely screwed in the CFB rankings? Let’s talk about Washington then. The Huskies are legit. Their fellow top 25 PAC-12 teams are good, but the Huskies are on another level. So far, undefeated Washington has avoided two scares. Arizona was a fluke game, and Utah is having a great year. Overall, they’ve been barely challenged, and they have a tough road ahead, but I’m convinced they will make the playoff. Heck, they might win it all. Washington never looked back against Stanford and Oregon, who are still solid football teams, and with Coach Chris Petersen and Heisman sleeper Jake Browning, you probably think Washington is worthy of a playoff spot by now. WRONG. The playoff voters don’t think so. Washington is ranked fifth behind a one loss Texas A&M team. SEC bias much? This Texas A&M is the same team who needed overtime to defeat a bottom level PAC-12 team. The same Texas A&M team who lost to Alabama by 20 points. The same Texas A&M who had their best win against a two loss Auburn team. If this isn’t SEC bias, I don’t know what is. Washington is clearly a playoff caliber team ahead of Texas A&M.

The PAC-12 is being perceived as a weak conference. Utah is ranked behind many other two loss teams despite not having a single bad loss. Washington got nudged out of the playoff spots. And besides the top 25 teams, the conference is seen with weak teams, but that’s not the case because USC, UCLA, and Oregon are all underrated. I haven’t even mentioned Stanford, Arizona State, and Cal who all have the capability to compete with a top 25 team. Even the two worst teams in the conference, Arizona and Oregon State, have come close to beating top PAC-12 teams. Arizona vs Washington went to overtime, and Oregon State lost by only five points to Utah and 4 points to Washington State.

Unlike any other conference, any team can beat the other, and there are no guaranteed wins in the PAC-12. The PAC-12 is too deep. They might cost themselves a playoff spot, but at least, there are plenty of exciting games to watch every week.