1. Q: Where’s the College Football Playoff contender?
Forget not being invited to the 2018 College Football Playoff party, the Pac-12 wasn’t even a a consideration.
The highest-ranked Pac-12 team in the final College Football Playoff rankings last year? Washington, and it was No. 9.
There you go, Pac-12. Your best team and standard-bearer was ranked behind two SEC teams, two Big Ten teams, an ACC team, an pseudo-ACC team (Notre Dame), and a freaking Group of Five program.
Three Pac-12 teams made the final top 25. Compare that to eight from the SEC, four from the Big Ten, four from the Big 12, and two from the Mountain West.
To be fair, the ACC only had two teams ranked in the final CFP Top 25, but no one really cares considering one of them ended up destroying Alabama for the national title. And that’s the point. The Pac-12 needs its one of ones to go all Clemson and elevate the entire league.
The Pac-12 wasn’t in the CFP team photo in 2017, either, but USC, Washington and Stanford were all in the top 13. Of course, in 2016, Washington got in and lost to Alabama. Even then, the Pac-12 caught a mega-break that Oklahoma went 10-2 and that the Big Ten champion – Penn State – had two losses.
It’s hard to get into the four-team playoff when Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Ohio State are sucking up so much of the oxygen in the room, but that’s sort of the point.
The other Power Five conferences have at least one team that you could predict to make the CFP, and it seems obvious. Suggest that, say, Washington will get there this season, or Oregon, or even USC, and you’ll come across as trying to be wacky.
It’ll happen. Oregon got to the first College Football Playoff National Championship, and had Washington State beaten Washington in the snowy Apple Cup last season, it would’ve had a chance to knock on the door had there been a few upsets in the other Power Five championship games.
It’s probably not going to be this year, but eventually the Pac-12 will swing around and be a major player again.
In the meantime, enjoy what should be a whale of a conference season.