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Pac-12 The good, the bad and the unknown week 13: Washington steals the North in Pullman

The Huskies took the North away from their rival, yet again.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Washington in the Apple Cup - The Huskies have turned the Apple Cup into a nightmare rivalry for the Cougars. The Huskies pounded the ball on the ground with Myles Gaskin in the snow and locked up the Cougar pass offense again to steal the North from the Cougars on the road. The Huskies have won six in-a-row now with this being the most-important victory of them all.

Myles Gaskin - The heart and soul of the Huskies team carried the team on his back with 170 yards and three scores, including an 80-yard dash that basically put the game away. He should get a lot of votes for Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year over Gardner Minshew after leading the Huskies to the win.

Arizona State rallies - Herm Edwards and company ended a statement season with an exclamation point in Tucson. I don’t think anyone saw ASU getting to seven regular seasons wins this year and they won their rivalry game with Eno Benjamin and N’Keal Harry not having their best games.

Utah rallies - Utah’s Holy War against BYU may not have had any Pac-12 implications, but a division champion coming into the P12CG fresh off a loss to a down and out BYU team would have been embarrassing. Jason Shelley Armand Shyne and Utah’s defense put it together in the last 1.5 quarters and saved the conference some embarrassment.

Stanford’s passing game - Never would have guessed that Stanford would end up becoming a semi-air raid team as the season went on, but that’s what the Cardinal are and it’s what got them a road win at UCLA. K.J. Costello continued to look like a second-team All-Pac-12 candidate with 344 yards passing and five TDs while J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was scary good in the red zone.

Cal’s defense - The Bears defense continued to make a case for best in the conference as they controlled the game against Colorado and caused five turnovers while also racking up a few sacks. This is one of the conference’s hottest units at the end of the season.

Oregon’s ground game - The Ducks pulverized a rival Beaver squad in Corvallis to the tune of nearly 400 yards rushing and six touchdowns, and this was without the threat of Justin Herbert out there for much of the game. The Ducks took what could have been a trap game and ran away with it right away.

USC’s receivers - The Trojans may have ended a tough season with a tough loss to Notre Dame, but the trio of Tyler Vaughns, Michael Pittman Jr, and Amon-Ra St. Brown looks like one that could be the best in the country next year. Any other Pac-12 program would kill to have this group. They combined for more than 300 yards and a score against a good Notre Dame secondary.

The Bad

Washington State’s heartbreak, again - The Cougars once again had the P12CG game right in front of them with nothing but Washington standing in front of them and stumbled. This year “felt different” and I agree it really did, but it didn’t feel different pretty quickly once it became clear Myles Gaskin and Washington could run all over WSU’s front and Washington’s vaunted secondary could contain WSU’s deadly air raid.

No CFP, again - The Cougars were a longshot for the CFP, but their loss in the Apple Cup confirms the Pac-12 will miss the CFP for the second-straight year and for the third year out of five in its existence. The conference needs to find a way to get a program or two to excel on an elite level.

USC & Clay Helton - The Trojans will miss a bowl for the first time, while eligible, since before Pete Carroll was there. This kind of failure inexcusable at a program of USC’s level and I can only think that Clay Helton sticking around for next year has to be a completely financial issue.

Closing, for many Pac-12 teams - The Pac-12 was going to maybe get as many as 10 teams into bowl games heading into the final weeks of the season, but Arizona, Colorado, and USC closed weak and now the conference might not even fill out all its bowl slots.

Pac-12 Championship Game timing - Why the hell is the conference championship game at 5PM on Friday? Putting the game on a Friday like the Pac-12 is the MAC or something and can’t get viewers on a Saturday is one thing, but then to also put it at 5 PM is another strange wrinkle. Most Pac-12 fans will still be at work at 5PM on a Friday. The whole thing makes zero sense and seems to put metaphorical East Coast viewers who probably still aren’t even watching the game first.

The Unknown

Is Utah ready for Washington this time? It didn’t go well for the Utes when they took on the Huskies in Salt Lake City early in the season as they lost 21-7, but that was before their offense found its footing. However, it was also before Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss were lost to injury, huge losses that cloud how well it seems the Utes will be able to do against a stacked Husky defense.

Can Washington’s offense keep it going against an elite defense? The Huskies are fresh off an impressive rushing performance in the snow in Pullman, but their offense still faces many of the issues that held them back in all their losses, especially in the ones against good defenses - Auburn and Cal. Will Jake Browning (and a still banged-up Myles Gaskin) and the Husky offense be able to put up enough points against Utah to not force their defense to have to pitch a near shut out to win the Pac-12?

Can Washington State sneak into the Fiesta Bowl? The Cougars are downtrodden after another tough Apple Cup loss, but they could still easily sneak into their first NY6-level bowl game in more than 15 years. Can the Cougars do what the Huskies did last year and slip into a NY6 bowl without even winning their division?