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Pac-12 looking back & looking ahead before the home stretch: Oregon & Utah fulfilling expectations

Looking back and looking ahead before we enter the final month of the season.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

I missed last week on vacation, so I figured I’ll do a larger, looking into the home stretch looking back and looking ahead for the Pac-12 this week.

Looking back

Oregon & Utah fulfilling expectations - The Ducks and the Utes came into the season as division favorites getting a lot of benefit of the doubt given both programs recent track record of not winning the conference. Both have met expectations. Neither has really exceeded those expectations, but they look like the best versions of themselves and are the favorites to meet up in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC lurking - It’s been a tough season for USC, but they still control their own destiny in the South somehow. Clay Helton is on the hottest seat possible. The Trojans don’t have JT Daniels at QB and they’re battling some injuries. Yet, don’t count them out.

Washington rebuilding - The Huskies have reloaded on the fly under Chris Petersen at a number of positions. That’s not happening this year. Having to replace almost their entire starting defense and some key players on offense hasn’t been easy, they’ve lost some very close games and their new goal is simply to win as many games as possible.

It’s hard to figure out just about anything - It seems like just about everyone in the conference can beat just about everyone. The only team that has seemed to avoid it so far is Oregon, who has won some really tough games that could have gone either way and Utah, who still has a lot of big tests to come. Teams like Arizona State, Colorado, Stanford, Oregon State, and UCLA look like different teams each week.

Looking ahead

Huge weekend for Oregon & Utah - Going back to the Ducks and Utes, they both have what are probably their biggest challenges before their hypothetical Pac-12 Championship Game. Oregon plays at USC against a team that’s still the conference’s most-talented team and one that is generally much better at home than on the road and Utah plays at Washington, where Oregon almost lost, with the Huskies coming off a bye week.

Redemption for USC & Washington? The Trojans and Huskies are taking their lumps this year. Don’t give up on them though. They both can still put together nice seasons if they can win out, and they both can. Win out and the Trojans are going to the Rose Bowl. Win out and the Huskies have a great shot at maybe even making the Rose Bowl, if Oregon or Utah can make the CFP, a longshot at a Cotton Bowl, or at least the Alamo Bowl, a nice landing spot for a rebuilding year.

How do you make bowl projections: We’ll all try to make bowl projections after the first few teams at the top of the conference, but after that, it’s so hard to make sense of how Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, and Washington State will finish.