Just as the Big Ten canceled their season, the Pac-12 followed suit. And then just as the Big Ten decided to un-cancel the season, the Pac-12 eventually came to that same conclusion.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 24, 2020
The Pac-12 will play a seven game schedule beginning on November 6th.
This is somewhat of a surprising move, since when the Big Ten announced that they were coming back Pac-12 commissioner, Larry Scott, put out a statement that they were internally discussing the issue but nothing was close to being decided.
And with the culture, wildfires and handling of the pandemic on the west coast, I didn’t think we would see the Pac-12 come back this year.
But I was wrong and I am glad to be wrong. Let’s break down the impact of their decision.
Let’s start with the obvious happy one. Pac-12 After Dark had become a twitter sensation. Where after all of the primetime games had been played there was always at least one Pac-12 game kicking off at 10 eastern. And it almost always delivered the goods.
Often it was wildly entertaining, lots of points, most likely going to overtime. And the perfect game for us gambling types who were either hot that day and wanted to try and make some more cash, or cold as hell but wanted to try and turn things around before NFL Sunday.
And thank god we have Pac-12 after dark coming back, because as promising as Kansas After Dark sounded, it didn’t really deliver the same punch.
— Verbally Committed Podcast (@PodVerbalCommit) September 13, 2020
Playoff Shake Up?
I”l cut the chase here, probably not. It’s not 100% impossible but the Pac-12 with a six game regular season, plus the conference championship game will be behind the eight ball with the other power five conferences.
The Big Ten is at least getting it’s conference champ eight games, and the other three are each playing ten. So already make the hypothetical, is a 7-0, Oregon team better than a 9-1 team from the Big 12, SEC or ACC?
During a normal year it has been an uphill climb for the Pac-12 to get to the playoff. Since the playoff began only twice has the Pac-12 been included. Oregon in 2015 and Washington in 2016. Remember Washington made it? And then got beat up by Alabama? No? Well I don’t blame you.
And this year with so much uncertainty and a single frat party having the ability to dismantle an entire football season it’s not impossible to see a Pac-12 team make it but it’s highly unlikely.
From the looks of it, Oregon is set to repeat as Pac-12 champs. This time however they will do it with defense. Oregon has as an elite defense which might sound odd to some people who still view Oregon as the high flying offense from the Chip Kelly era.
While it remains to be seen if Penei Sewell, their All-American and NFL ready left tackle returns for the season as we have seen Big Ten athletes like Shaun Wade and Rondale Moore announce, Oregon should be more than capable.
It may be an adjustment period for the Ducks without Justin Herbert but with their defense they should manage. Unfortunately for them, without putting up eye popping offensive numbers, it will be tough for them to get the attention of some casual fans this year.
The rest of the North division will be easy pickings for Oregon’s defense. Cal while showing a strong defense had the worst offense in the league last year. Washington is on the rise under a new coach but not quite at Oregon’s level yet. Stanford might be finding out that David Shaw isn’t actually a great coach. Washington State lost Mike Leach and Oregon State is well, yeah.
USC should be the favorite to come out of the South. They should always be the favorite, they are USC. I still can’t help but feel that Clay Helton is holding them back. He didn’t get the axe last season but the rest of his staff did. So we will see if new assistants is really the answer or if it’s someone whose name rhymes with Durban Heyer.
Arizona State will once again be fun to watch. I gotta say, who would have thought Herm Edwards was a good fit for the college game. And he added Marvin Lewis as his defensive coordinator. Arizona State is an NFL development camp.
Their sophomore quarterback Jayden Daniels should be plenty of fun to watch this year as well.
Utah who was a win over Oregon away from being in the playoff last year and making Lee Corso look like some sort of football Nostradamus, has had to hit the rebuild button. They lost just about everyone from the last two teams that won this division. While I don’t expect them to be terrible, they won’t be a sneaky conference title pick this year.
Outside of that it’s seeing what Chip Kelly can do at UCLA in year three and Kevin Sumlin’s last gasp as a power five head coach at Arizona. And Colorado licks its wounds after Mel Tucker bolted for Michigan State.
Who Cares We’re Going Bowling
A piece of good news for the Pac-12 however is that the NCAA made the announcement yesterday that every team this season gets to go to a bowl game. Gone is the six wins requirement for 2020.
There will be no win requirements to play in a bowl this season, if approved by NCAA’s Council next month. So we potentially could have a winless team go bowling!
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) September 24, 2020
This is a wild proposition, we could very well be in for a bowl game between Oregon State and Rutgers. And we thought the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl game was bad.
Who Cares It’s More Football
That paragraph title says it all. Does the Pac-12 suck in comparison to the other Power Five conferences? Yeah it does. But during this year of 2020, I am not going to complain when more football becomes available to us.
I can’t wait for the first “After Dark” game on November 6th, I will be watching it thinking back, “What did I ever do after 10 pm on a Saturday night? Whatever it was, I don’t want to go back to it.”
Welcome back Pac-12, it’s mediocre to have you back.
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