The Pac-12 conference was already several steps behind the rest of the college football world coming into this 2020 season.
It was the last conference in the power-5 to vote on and approve to play a limited season, and unfortunately that poor decision-making has hindered the football season in more ways than one.
Yes, it has been difficult to make decisions based on unknown factors surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and after obtaining the daily testing necessities to test players and coaching staff, the conference voted on a six-game season with an additional seventh game (including the Pac-12 Championship Game on December 18).
Unfortunately, the really only shot at seeing a Pac-12 team as one of the four teams vying for a National Championship in the College Football Playoff was one team go undefeated in the conference and handle business in the conference title game.
That has been underwhelming in the College Football Playoff committees eyes three weeks into this season.
There are currently only four undefeated teams remaining in the Pac-12: Oregon (3-0) and Washington (2-0) in the north, and USC (3-0) and Colorado (2-0) in the south division.
On Tuesday, the first CFP rankings came out and there is much to infer about what the CFP committee thinks of the Pac-12 conference, and it’s not good.
No. 15 Oregon and No. 18 USC are the only two teams representing the conference in the CFP rankings. These two teams are ranked differently in the AP Poll Top 25, with Oregon at No. 9 and USC at No. 19.
Let’s focus in on the Ducks. For the three remaining games on Oregon’s schedule, it’s not about just winning but how the team won. Style points are going to matter moving forward for the Ducks to have even a chance at a national championship.
Beating UCLA by three points isn’t going to cut it and the CFP committee took notice.
Oregon has Oregon State, Cal and Washington left on the schedule. Three commanding wins, especially if Washington too goes undefeated until that rivalry matchup on Dec. 12, and then hopefully a date with undefeated USC in the Pac-12 championship might do it. Only just might.
One alternate route of getting back in the good graces of the CFP committee is something that would be out of Oregon’s hands. Should the Ducks’ game against Cal (0-2 so far this season) get cancelled in two weeks, Oregon could schedule a non-conference opponent for that weekend, like BYU, who is ranked No. 14 in the CFP rankings and No. 8 in the AP Poll Top 25. A dominating win over the Cougars would hold more weight than a win over a winless Pac-12 opponent.
Now that the CFP rankings are out, BYU is a desirable opponent for a Pac-12 team. Just ask the Washington Huskies who tried to schedule a game with the Cougars after it was announced that the Apple Cup this upcoming weekend was cancelled. BYU apparently turned down the offer until after the CFP rankings were released to “gauge their place.”
Maybe the Cougars will have a change of heart moving forward, but also it’s out of either schools hands until the opportunity presents itself.
Moving forward, it’s all about style points for the Oregon Ducks if the team wants a chance at a CFP spot. A lot of that falls on Oregon controlling what they can control but also getting a little bit of luck from the rest of the conference as well.