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The good, the bad and the unknown week 11: Pac-12 Playoff chances all but gone...again

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The Pac-12’s already slim Playoff chances sail away.

NCAA Football: Washington at Stanford John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Stanford playing spoiler - The Cardinal never play better than when they have a chance to take out the Pac-12’s last hopes at a national title. They played their best game of the year against Washington on both sides of the ball and kept their chance at a Pac-12 title alive.

Stanford’s offense - Bryce Love got all of the attention for turning it on in the second half and racking up yards and touchdowns on a lot of carries, but the overall offense was really on - K.J. Costello made the throws he needed to make and missed sacks, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside made huge catches for big chunks of the yards and the offensive line looked like an old Stanford unit.

Stanford’s defense - The unit rallied after a shaky start and made the plays they needed to win the game. Bobby Okereke made a case for being the Pac-12’s best linebacker with a monster game.

USC locking up the South - The Trojans did what they needed to do and got maybe Sam Darnold’s best game of the year to lock up a hit and miss South division. It seems crazy, but the Playoff isn’t out of the question for them. Either way, they seem to be clearly playing the best football of anyone in the conference.

Washington State staying focused - WSU’s game at Utah was the typical trap game for a team looking to make it to their Super Bowl of the season in another huge Apple Cup, but they avoided the trap on the road and are the only team in the North who controls their own destiny. Well done.

Hercules Mata’afa - Eight tackles with five for-loss and three sacks. He may have locked up Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year against Utah, if he hadn’t already.

UCLA not giving up - I admit I thought the Bruins were ready to pack it in for the season and lose out, but Josh Rosen came back and they showed heart beating Arizona State. It’s a very low goal, but getting to a bowl game is realistic for the Bruins now.

Khalil Tate - Just another epic performance by the conference’s scariest player.

The Bad

Pac-12 Playoff Hopes - USC isn’t dead yet, but it’s a longshot. You can get mad at dumb scheduling by the conference, parity, Stanford being lights out when other teams have national title implications, but struggling when they have their own, but the base fact is the conference has lacked elite teams in recent years and top-level teams that can be consistent and fight through injuries.

Potential Pac-12 bowl line-up - This year could really expose the bad Pac-12 bowl slots for what they are if what I think plays out could play out. USC wins out and makes the Fiesta or Cotton and then a five-loss Stanford team that won the North ends up in the Alamo Bowl and 9/10-win Washington schools play in afterthought Holiday/Foster Farm’s Bowls and a very scary Arizona team in the god forsaken Sun Bowl. Part of this is the fallout of not having an elite team that can make the Playoff and non-conference losses.

Washington’s offensive meltdowns - Washington once again made a defense which had struggled for most of the year look unbeatable for a large chunk of time against Stanford. The Huskies have scored points in bunches against bad teams, but once again looked helpless on offense for way too long again and it bit them for a second loss.

Arizona State and UCLA’s defenses - It was a good game in the Rose Bowl with nice offensive performances, but the base problem is these teams have bad defenses and the Pac-12 in general is suffering from a lot of teams have bad defenses.

The Unknown

How the North shakes out - The Cougars control their own destiny (I don’t think anyone saw that coming after the Cal game) and Stanford has the tie-breaker in a three-way tie and a tie with Washington. Can the Cougars finally get past a Chris Petersen Husky team in Seattle? Can Stanford avoid a letdown against a Cal team due for an upset, and can Washington bounce back after a crushing loss?

What was Bryce Love on? Stanford’s star looked like he could barely walk in the first half against Washington and David Shaw’s ethics were being challenged by the TV crew and then he came out in the second half looking stronger than he has in more than a month. Maybe it was an act, or how much Toradol was flowing through his system? I have never seen a turnaround like that from a player at the college level.

Has USC figured it out? The Trojans look back to at least being the Pac-12’s best team. Are they setting up for another underwhelming disappointment again, or have they figured it out and ready for another late-season run and possible Playoff shot if a miracle happens?

Which five-win Pac-12 teams will make bowls? The conference is crawling with five-win teams - Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, Utah. How many of these teams will find that last win and squeak into a bowl game?

Will all the coaches survive? It looked like Todd Graham had saved his ship earlier in the season, but the Sun Devils are at five wins right now and he has to be at risk again. Jim Mora beat Graham Saturday night and the Bruins are still alive for a bowl, but you have to wonder if he can survive.