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Pac-12 the good, the bad & the unknown week 12: Washington State looks a little more like a CFP contender

The Cougars made a statement against Arizona on Saturday night.

Arizona v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

The Good

Washington State & Gardner Minshew - Praising the Cougars, Mike Leach, and Minshew might seem like a broken record, but this team, coach and QB just keeps defying doubters and now look like a team that I think should be considered for the last CFP spot that would go to a one-loss team right now.

Sure, the Cougars don’t have the best resume, but does Michigan, Georgia, Oklahoma, or Ohio State? The best win by any of those teams is probably Michigan’s three-point win at Northwestern or Georgia’s win over Florida.

WSU’s dismantling of a hot Arizona team coming off a bye week should draw national attention.

The Apple Cup - The Apple Cup once again will decide the Pac-12 North, but this one feels different for the Cougs. Remember that the 2016 Cougars came in the AC off a 14-point loss at Colorado with early-season losses to Eastern Washington and Boise State and the 2017 Cougars had blowout losses to Cal and Arizona on their resumes. These Cougars don’t have those pock marks this year, a more-dynamic QB, better and deeper WRs, and an even-better defense.

On the other hand, the Huskies still have one of the nation’s most-talented and deep secondaries, great defensive linemen and a running game that match up very well with WSU’s scheme.

Pac-12 fans should at least get a closer game though or the conference’s biggest celebration ever if WSU wins in a romp.

The Kelly/Kelley breakthrough at UCLA - The USC game was a major litmus test for Chip Kelly’s regime to me. They needed a win to show they are truly headed in the right direction and they got one, mostly on the legs of the impressive Joshua Kelley, who looks like he will be Chip Kelly’s next great college running back.

Watch out for the Bruins in 2019. Well, before that, watch for them to test Stanford this Saturday.

Utah gets it done - The Utes shook off their tragic injuries and a track record of stumbling against lesser team in November and did what they could to get to the P12CG by downing Colorado on the road. The Utes now get a chance for revenge against a Washington school and a historically-significant trip to the Rose Bowl, possibly against Urban Meyer.

Oregon gets it done - It wasn’t pretty, but the Ducks got a huge win to keep them off an ugly slide and get them another valuable win as they try to build momentum under Mario Cristobal. The win could be the difference between an Alamo Bowl and the Sun Bowl for them.

The Bad

The End of the Mike MacIntyre run - MacIntyre’s officially done in Colorado and it’s a disappointing finish for a coach who took Colorado from the absolute bottom of the conference just a handful of years ago and brought them to a P12CG and Alamo Bowl. It was still time as the Buffs had topped out under MacIntyre and were headed right back for the bottom.

Clay Helton’s run at USC - Maybe there’s some outside circumstances that keep Helton at USC, but his regime is officially off the rails in LA and it’s only getting to get worse as they miss a bowl game while eligible for the first time since before Pete Carroll was coach.

Arizona State in the clutch - The Sun Devils had a great opportunity to hang onto the Pac-12 South late against Oregon, but failed to convert a two-point conversion and then turned the ball over after getting a huge pick that gave them the ball at mid-field when all they needed was a field goal to win. The Sun Devils have made strides in Herm Edwards’ first year, but will come up just short of reaching a P12CG.

I want to note here that I think ASU got jobbed on the call on the two-point conversion, so this might not be completely fair.

The Unknown

Washington State in the Apple Cup? As said earlier, everything points to the Cougars breaking through in the AC, but Washington’s domination has been so thorough the past few years that the Cougars are a major question heading into their biggest game of the year against the best team they’ve played this year against their biggest rival. Are they ready?

Who is the new coach in Boulder? Some familiar names like Jim Leavitt, Jeff Tedford, and Jimmy Lake will start to pop up around Boulder. Colorado isn’t a super easy job, but Mike MacIntyre left it a lot better than when he found it, so it’s a very good job. Who will take the opportunity?

Are we sleeping on Utah? I think a lot of people just project that whichever Washington school wins the North automatically wins the P12CG and goes to the Rose. Yes, the Utes are without Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss, but they might have the conference’s best defense, great special teams, a veteran offensive line that’s playing well and a talented running back.

Oh, and they get a basically meaningless game this Saturday leading into the championship game.

Are the Utes flying under the radar heading into the P12CG?