Submitted by Wayne Root on Monday, October 23, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Things were already looking bad in recent weeks for the Pac 12. USC had to go overtime to beat Texas at home, part of a string of poor performances against market expectations this season. Washington, who was squashed in the Final Four last year by national runner-up Alabama, looked awful in a road loss at Arizona State. Supposed up-and-comer Washington State was embarrassed at California. Stanford? They have a Heisman Trophy candidate, but their loss at USC looks even worse now than it did at the time.
Now, Saturday night’s 49-14 loss for USC at Notre Dame makes it very hard for ANY Pac 12 team to make a reasonable case for a Final Four bid this year. The Trojans were so uncompetitive that any team who plays competitive football with them (or loses to them) will look bad by association.
*If the eventual winner of Washington/Washington State can make it to the Pac 12 championship game with only one loss (meaning both would have defeated Stanford), they would have to beat USC by about 49-14 to look like they belong in the Final Four (assuming the Trojans still get to that game in the weak Pac 12 South).
*Stanford already has two losses (one to USC by 18 points). If the Cardinal runs the table to win the Pac 12 North, and then the league title…it’s still extremely unlikely a two-loss team would get a bid (particularly since one of those losses is to USC).
USC is a two-loss team already (Washington State and Notre Dame), Getting outgained 497-336 in South Bend officially confirms what most of us already knew already, this Trojans team shouldn’t be considered elite. I hadn’t thought Notre Dame was Final Four material either. I’ll have to re-think that after their dominant win this past Saturday night. USC is toast even if they run the table.
You know that WAYNE ALLYN ROOT is always on the lookout for upset scenarios. At this stage of the season in college football, that’s usually connected to…
*National contenders taking their eye off the ball because of overconfidence
*National contenders starting to feel the pressure and making mistakes
*National PRETENDERS realizing they weren’t as good as they thought, and losing their fire
That third bullet point is going to be very important in the Pac 12. Some previously off-the-radar up-and-comers like Arizona and Arizona State in the South, and maybe California in the North might be able to spring some more upsets against the pretenders. And, dogs may be the smart way to go when the Washington schools and Stanford play each other because one pretender is still going to the Rose Bowl!
I also want to point out that the Big 12 is in the same boat, given that Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are both realizing they weren’t as good as they thought. Each already has a league loss. Each already played down to the wire against Texas. TCU is undefeated, and will soon be qualifying for bullet point #1 (overconfidence) or bullet point #2 (pressure). OU and Okie State can play spoiler to the Horned Frogs, but take their eyes off the ball vs. other opponents (like the Sooners did vs. Iowa State).
Believe it or not, there are scenarios where only TWO of the Power 5 conferences will be represented in the Final Four! If Notre Dame wins out, it would be hard to deny that major independent a spot. If Alabama and Georgia stay undefeated, except against each other in the SEC Championship game…that could but both in (particularly if Georgia pulls an upset). Though, the Big 10 could be looking at undefeated Wisconsin plus one-loss Penn State, or maybe one-loss Ohio State and one-loss Wisconsin depending on how things play out. The ACC could join the Pac 12 and Big 12 on the sidelines!
The distractions of the Final Four qualifying challenge have loomed large over late October and November football since the format was installed. That’s going to happen again this season. My clients and I are going to make a bunch of money from it again too!
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I’m really looking forward to the second half of the college season. The TV schedules have been disappointing so far. But, more good teams are about to play each other. That creates great dog scenarios in those clashes, while also setting up potential lookahead and letdown spots before and after that we can take advantage of. I’m THE KING OF LAS VEGAS for a reason!
It's time for you to really start paying attention to college football. It’s time for you to crank up your intensity for the stretch run. It’s time for YOU to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!