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College football Playoff bracket: Oregon, USC hold Pac-12 banner, Stanford, UCLA, B1G falter

The Ducks stand alone as of now.

Steve Dykes

Which Pac-12 team would the selection committee pick today?

Tier 1

1. Oregon

Tier 2

2. USC

3. UCLA

Tier 3

4. Stanford

5. Arizona State

Tier 4

6. Arizona

7. Washington

8. Oregon State

Tier 5: Everyone else right now

Oregon is the Pac-12 standard-bearer. They offered the most impressive half of college football this season with 28 unanswered points against Michigan State, and they now have to feel very good about their chances of making the Playoff. Many traps lay ahead, but the Ducks at their best seem to still top the rest of the conference at their best. We’ll have to see if Oregon can summon that performance once again.

USC isn’t quite back in the conversation yet. They were very fortunate to beat Stanford. But the Trojans did all they needed to get into the picture and bested their rival in yet another closely contested matchup. After Boston College, they have three tough foes before four “should win” games. The Trojans are back.

Stanford is hardly out of the picture themselves, but they did not do themselves any favor by shooting their drives in the foot one step after another.  The Cardinal were going to struggle in some facets, but execution usually hasn’t been this bad on the Farm since pre-Jim Harbaugh days. David Shaw has plenty of doubters, and his play calling on Saturday probably earned him plenty more.

UCLA did not play all that well against Memphis. UCLA football ended up playing what felt like a playground basketball game against the Tigers, where each team exchanged jump shots (touchdowns) until time just ran out. However, despite all of UCLA’s lurches, they still ended up winning, and they’re very much back in the conversation if they beat up Texas.

(At the moment, no other Pac-12 team has played well enough to be considered a playoff contender. Arizona might if UTSA turns out to be good; ASU hasn’t played anyone of consequence, nor has Cal; Oregon State and Washington are going to have to hope Hawaii is as good as they looked; Utah can move into the picture with a third straight dominant performance in the Big House.)

And the Big Ten. Oh, the Big Ten. Michigan State alone probably survived the carnage, but the rest of the conference teetered on disaster by the time the day ended with both Ohio State and Michigan both going down.

This should help out the Pac-12 immensely in terms of worrying about one of the other Power 5s squeezing them out. The SEC seems locked into a bid at this point. The ACC and Big 12 have their fair share of contenders. The Pac-12 is considered the second strongest conference in the land by most pundits, and knocking any of the fellow conferences a rung down is just huge at this juncture.  Utah beating Michigan in Ann Arbor would advance the cause even further for the conference.