The Pac-12 isn’t going to the College Football Playoff this year.
OK, so that isn’t a statement as much as it’s a prediction, but it’s a prediction I feel confident will come to fruition. While it’s impossible to know how the rest of this season is going to play out, looking around the college football landscape, it isn’t all that difficult to figure out who is going to be left out. And at the school dance that is the College Football Playoff, the Pac-12 is standing by itself in the corner of the gym wearing a suit that’s two sizes too big.
While the CFP Selection Committee might not use the Associated Press Top 25 or Coaches Poll while determining its rankings — the first of which will be released a week from Tuesday, on Halloween — they’re still a good reflection of how teams are viewed, and right now the highest-ranked Pac-12 team is Washington at No. 12. Washington State is next at No. 15, followed by Stanford at 20 and Southern California at 21. More so than where they’re ranked, it’s who they’re listed behind. Washington is 6-1 and at No. 12 behind five other one-loss teams.
If we look at the, we see that right now the discussion is centered on which conferences could get two playoff teams (hint: the SEC and the Big Ten). “It is more likely than not that the league champion will be the only team represented in a New Year’s Six game, even if it makes the playoff,” writes Palm, who projects USC to be selected for the Cotton Bowl, and that’s it for the Pac-12. Of the 10 other open spots in the New Year’s Six (remember, the Group of Five will get one), Palm has three Big Ten teams, three Big 12 teams, and two apiece from the SEC and ACC. Washington and Washington State are slated for the Alamo and Sun Bowls, respectively.
And there’s a good reason for it. It’s not that the Pac-12’s best teams aren’t good, it’s that they just won’t have the resumes other contenders will have. USC’s 35-point loss to Notre Dame on Saturday did the conference no favors, particularly if the Trojans end up winning the conference. Stanford already has two losses as well, one of which came against a San Diego State team that loses a little more luster with each passing week, so the Cardinal can likely be scratched off the list of contenders.
That leaves Washington and Washington State, and the biggest nonconference win between the two of them is Wazzu’s win over Boise State. Washington’s Chris Petersen can complain about his team’s late start times keeping it out of the spotlight, but that tends to happen when you don’t play anybody worth putting the spotlight on.
As things currently stand, the best chance for either of the Washington schools to add a healthy win to their resume is when they play each other. Keep in mind that, while both still get to play Stanford, if each of them beat Stanford — which they absolutely must do in order to stay alive — then we’re talking about a Stanford team that finishes 8-4 at best. And I don’t think they’re both going to beat Stanford. One of them might, but it’s also possible neither will.
That’s why the Pac-12 won’t be going to the playoff this year. As far as the postseason is concerned, the entire conference is playing for an at-large New Year’s Six berth and nothing more.
Hot Seat of the Week
There’s no question that Tennessee’s Butch Jones is on the hottest seat in the SEC. There was already a strong scent of charred hind parts coming out of Knoxville before the Vols lost to Alabama 45-7, and now you have to figure Butch has been burned to the bone sitting on it. He has company, though.
Arkansas lost to Auburn 52-20 on Saturday, dropping to 2-5 on the season and 0-4 in the SEC. While being winless in conference play is bad enough, the manner in which it has been happening is even worse. Arkansas’ four SEC losses have come by an average of 24.25 points. The closest was a seven-point loss to Texas A&M, and the nearest the Hogs have come since was a 26-point loss to South Carolina.
Bret Bielema is in his fifth season at Arkansas, and this latest loss dropped his record to 27-31 in Fayetteville. His record against the SEC is 10-26. Call me crazy, but I don’t think Arkansas is content paying Bielema $4.145 million to win 28 percent of his conference games.
There had been talk about Bielema’s buyout being the one thing keeping him safe, but it turns out that might not be the case. It had been reported multiple places that Bielema’s buyout was at $15 million, but recent reporting shows that number is at a much more reasonable $5.9 million. Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s still a lot of money to pay a coach to go away, but in this day and age, when there are at least 20 coaches making more than $4 million annually, it’s not insurmountable.
The good news for Bielema is Arkansas still has games left against Ole Miss, Coastal Carolina and Missouri. If it can win those three games and pull off an upset against either LSU or Mississippi State, it can get to a bowl game. I just don’t know if that would be enough, and given Bielema’s history at Arkansas, it doesn’t seem to be a likely scenario anyway.
Khalil Tate Highlight of the Week
I wrote about Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate in last week’s Monday After, and I’m thrilled to report that my new favorite player was at it again this week. Tate now has seven rushing touchdowns on the season, and they’ve come by an average of 57.1 yards per. It’d be one thing if he were doing it on a bad team, but Tate suddenly has the Wildcats in the hunt for a Pac-12 title … which is probably another example of why the Pac-12 won’t be in the playoff this year, but I digress.
They just keep getting better. This 76-yard run from Khalil Tate is our longest play of the season.
3:22 1st Quarter pic.twitter.com/h4irNBBL9V
— Arizona Football (@ArizonaFBall) October 22, 2017
Steve Spurrier Story of the Week
This doesn’t have anything to do with anything that happened in college football over the weekend, but it popped up on my Twitter timeline Sunday night and had me rolling. Steve Spurrier is a legend for a reason.
Random Ranking of the Week
All dogs are good dogs, but some dogs are better dogs than other good dogs, so this week I’m ranking breeds of dog.
1. Bernese Mountain Dog
2. Alaskan Malamute
All rankings are final!
Obvious Joke of the Week
Must have been a helmet on the tracks.
Funny Thought of the Week
Florida Atlantic beat North Texas 69-31 on Saturday. It was a nice win for the Owls, and after a slow start to the season, they’re now 3-0 in conference play. Naturally, when we think of FAU, we immediately think about Lane Kiffin, and when we think of Lane Kiffin, we immediately think about where he’s going to end up next. KIffin didn’t take the FAU job as a career destination, he took it restore his reputation and prove that he can be a successful head coach.
Now, most people assume that Lane’s going to end up in the SEC somewhere, but I’m not nearly as sure. He went to school at Fresno State and spent a lot of his coaching career — both in college and in the NFL — in California. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he made a return to the Pac-12, and that made me think of something that had me giggling like a moron.
I’m not reporting anything, nor have I even heard a whisper of such a thing, but can you imagine if the UCLA job came open and Lane Kiffin took it? How perfect would that be? Not only would Kiffin have a Power Five job, but he’d have a chance to stick it to USC every season.
Excessive Celebration of the Week
Listen, it’s great to get hyped up on the sideline, but maybe don’t send one of your coaches flying as a result.
College Football Playoff Projection of the Week
3. Penn State
Until the next Monday After!