This is it: Thanksgiving weekend and the last regular season weekend of college football. It’s almost sad to have seen it come and go so quickly.
There is no time for tears, however. We have some power ranking to do...
What to Watch For...
The Apple Cup
This weekend’s annual rivalry matchup between the Washington State Cougars and the Washington Huskies is easily the most significant Pac-12 game in the season to this point. It isn’t a stretch to say this may be the most important game in the history of the Wazzu football program. If Wazzu can win, they will stay alive in the CFP conversation and will get a shot at the Pac-12 Championship. If U-Dub can win, they insert themselves to the New Year’s 6 conversation, while Wazzu will have to “settle” for the Fiesta Bowl, or some other non-Rose-Bowl-New-Year’s-6 game. The stakes have never been higher in the Apple Cup. If you watch and love Pac-12 football, this game has to be on your TV come Friday night.
Last Call for Bowling
Heading into this weekend, the Pac-12 still has several teams that could push themselves to bowl eligibility with a win this weekend. Those teams include Arizona, USC, and Colorado. Each one of the prior mentioned teams is sitting at 5 wins, so the chance to extend any of their seasons is very much still alive. Arizona and Colorado both have winnable match-ups. Arizona takes on rival Arizona State in the Territorial Cup, and Colorado will face Cal. USC, meanwhile, has a MUCH steeper hill to climb to bowl eligibility as they will take on the #3 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish . Still, none of these teams are done until the final whistle blows.
The Final Weekend of Pac-12 Football
Okay, this title is slightly misleading. The “Final Regular Season Weekend of Pac-12 Football” is much more fitting. Regardless, this will be the last weekend we get to watch a full slate of Pac-12 football (not including next week’s Stanford-Cal makeup game). Find some time after your fantastic Thanksgiving feast to watch some “foosball”. Rivalry weekend is a fantastic tradition held amongst college football, and the Pac-12 games this weekend will be no different. A lot is on the line for many of the teams this weekend, and that will create some truly exciting and memorable games.
Pac-12 Power Rankings
1. #8 Washington State Cougars (10-1 Overall, 7-1 Conference)
Minshew Mania is at a fever pitch in Pullman. After Gardner Minshew delivered another Heisman-worthy performance, the Cougs are one game away from winning the Pac-12 North for the first time in program history. WSU headed into a sneaky trap game versus a surging Arizona team, but absolutely obliterated the Wildcats en route to a very nice 69-28 win. It all comes down to this weekend versus rival Washington to clinch the Pac-12 North, and stay alive in the CFP race.
Up Next: Versus Washington
2. #16 Washington Huskies (8-3 Overall, 7-2 Conference)
Washington raced out to a big lead very quickly against Oregon State and never looked back. Washington was firing on all cylinders this past weekend, and finally are putting together the offensive performances they need to win games. Jake Browning was solid, and Myles Gaskin was tremendous in the victory. The Huskies have put themselves in a position to steal the North away from Wazzu, but it all comes down to a win in the Apple Cup to bring that dream to reality.
Up Next: @ WSU
3. #17 Utah Utes (8-3 Overall, 6-3 Conference)
The Utes officially clinched and will represent the South in the Pac-12 Championship after they steamrolled a helpless Colorado team. They were then helped out by an Arizona State loss. The Utes have managed to keep winning even after losing their starting QB and RB. Each week, a new player rises up for the Utes to make a splash impact. This week? The entire defense was the star for Utah, as they held Colorado to under 200 yards of total offense and forced three takeaways on the day. Regardless of the winner of the Apple Cup, the North representative will have their hands full with a scary Utes team.
Up Next: Versus BYU
4. Oregon Ducks (7-4 Overall, 4-4 Conference)
Oregon stole a win away from an Arizona State team looking to maintain ground in the Pac-12 South. Justin Herbert and the Ducks offense performed well, tallying 449 total yards. The major downside to this performance? Oregon turned the ball over four times, and nearly threw away the game. The Ducks will close out their season against the Beavs in the Civil War, and they have to be ready; rivalry games can cause all sorts of mayhem. Herbert and Co. will have to remain sharp if they want to improve their bowl status.
Up Next: @ OSU
5. Stanford Cardinal (6-4 Overall, 4-3 Conference)
Stanford saw their game get delayed to December 1st due to the poor air quality caused by the fires in Paradise, CA. Shaw and the Cardinal will have a great opportunity to get to eight wins, as they will take on UCLA before making up the game versus Cal. At the very least, the Cardinal should be able to win one of the two games remaining to improve their bowl standing.
Up Next: @ UCLA
6. Arizona State Sun Devils (6-5 Overall, 4-4 Conference)
The Sun Devils stumbled at a golden opportunity to stay alive in the Pac-12 South, and eliminated themselves after a narrow loss to Oregon this past weekend. The offense, outside of Eno Benjamin and N’Keal Harry, was largely inefficient most of the afternoon, and were bailed out by key turnovers by their defense. Even then, the defense wasn’t very good outside of the four takeaways. Still, ASU will have a shot to clinch a winning season if they can pull out a win in the Territorial Cup this weekend.
Up Next: @ Arizona
7. UCLA Bruins (3-8 Overall, 3-5 Conference)
UCLA has managed to get better every game of the season. This continued against rival USC in the Battle for LA, as UCLA beat USC 34-27. Joshua Kelley was downright fantastic, as he rushed for 289 yards and two TDs. Kelley accounted for over half of UCLA’s total yardage in the game. Though UCLA is no longer bowl eligible, Chip Kelly has set a good foundation for next season’s Bruins to build upon. That hype could reach a fever pitch if UCLA is able to take down Stanford this next weekend.
Up Next: @ Stanford
8. California Golden Bears (6-4 Overall, 3-4 Conference)
Cal was a part of the delayed matchup versus Stanford and will make up the game on December 1st. Cal is already bowl eligible, and is looking to improve their bowl standing and send themselves to a better game. That can start this weekend with a matchup versus the Buffaloes in Berkeley before their rivalry matchup in The Big Game against Stanford.
Up Next: Versus Colorado
9. Arizona Wildcats (5-6 Overall, 4-4 Conference)
The poor Wildcats ran into the steamroller mustache of Gardner Minshew and the Washington State Cougars. The game was 55-14 before halftime and Arizona had no chance from the get-go. Khalil Tate put up some decent passing numbers, but a good chunk of these came in garbage time when Wazzu’s lead was already safe. This is a very disappointing result for Arizona, as the Wildcats were starting to heat up behind Khalil Tate. Still, Arizona has a great chance to get to bowl eligibility, and how sweet could that be if it came against the rival Sun Devils in the Territorial Cup this weekend?
Up Next: Versus ASU
10. USC Trojans (5-6 Overall, 4-5 Conference)
Losing last week’s game was critical for USC, as it leaves the Trojans last hope of bowl eligibility in a matchup against #3 Notre Dame. Not stopping there, Clay Helton’s hot seat has hit searing, as Helton could be coaching for his job this week against a dominant Irish team. USC will have to pull off arguably the upset of the season to go bowling, and save their head coach from possibly losing his job.
Up Next: Versus Notre Dame
11. Colorado Buffaloes (5-6 Overall, 2-6 Conference)
Colorado was outmatched against the eventual South champions Utah. The Buffalos have sputtered and have now lost 6 consecutive games. It is almost impressive to look at how drastically the Buffs season has turned. Almost. The team has looked lost on both sides of the ball during this stretch, and it has ultimately cost Mike McIntyre his job. The last hope of bowl eligibility is a winnable matchup against Cal in Berkeley.
Up Next: @ Cal
12. Oregon State Beavers (2-9 Overall, 1-7 Conference)
The Beavs gave a fight, but they ultimately were outmatched by a superior Washington Huskies team. As frustrating as this season has been, it is refreshing to see that the players are still fighting for Smith and his coaching staff. Effort is a tremendous building block, and once OSU gets a few more recruits in, there could be something serious to work with. The Beavs will take the field one last time this season against Oregon, in hope of taking down the Ducks, and earning some in-state bragging rights.
Up Next: Versus Oregon
This week’s Notebook is finished. This article wouldn’t be complete, however, without wishing you and your friends and family a very happy and grateful Thanksgiving.
We at Building the Dam are thankful for you readers. Seriously. It sounds corny, but your clicks and views helps give a few sport nerds the chance to tell their stories to a larger audience. Thank you for your time and eyes.
We also are thankful for your comments and opinions as well. Feel free to throw something in the end here.