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Pac-12 disappointments: UCLA football, Stanford offense, Potential playoff exclusion?

The college football playoff is still a long ways away but the Pac-12 has work to do to get into it.

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Ryan McGinn: The real possibility that we have no representation in the first college football playoff may be the biggest disappointment of this football season. Without a PAC-12 team in the Football Final Four, the whole conference will miss out on major media exposure and continue to be seen as something of a subpar conference, despite the fact our cellar dwellers are putting together stellar games against powerhouse teams. The difference between us and the SEC is when the SEC beats up on each other, they're good competitive teams. When we do the same, our powerhouse teams are overrated. That's a culture change a card carrying member of the Final Four could kickstart.


Sam Barbee: From my perspective the UW offense has been dismal but I honestly wasn't too high anyway. Chris Petersen had been saying to pump our brakes all along. He saw it coming, so that's not semantically disappointing. I thought Washington State would be better. Rutgers turned out to be better than anyone thought, but Nevada isn't good and they had a shot to beat Oregon and let it slip away. Maybe they've rebounded, but I was expecting them to be a contender in the North, not just another team.

Trace Travers: There isn't a clear favorite at this point, which does mess up the playoff chances for the conference. That goes along with how UCLA was overrated at the beginning of the season. They were pushed as a trendy pick to open the season, but their offensive line is shoddy and they can't get a pass rush. It is disappointing, but the Bruins are still a very good team.


Patrick Ghidossi: Their 62 point performance at ASU aside, I think UCLA's offense has been very disappointing. Brett Hundley is a massive talent and they have skill and speed at the tailback and receiver positions but that offensive line has not been able to come together. Every team, save ASU, has gotten consistent and debilitating pressure on Hundley, forcing him into awkward plays which he can only recover from so many times. The other team I look at is Washington State. The expectations weren't through the roof for the Cougs but they did look to be primed for another bowl bid. After dropping their first two which they really should have had, they've rallied a bit but it hasn't been enough, losing a heartbreaking shootout to Cal and a close call to Oregon at home. Their win over Utah was nice but after losing to Stanford it looks like the Cougs will not be bowling this year.

Mark Schipper: UCLA has been a brutal, embarrassing disappointment. It’s not just the two losses - those things do happen. But it’s how they’ve looked. Stale, predictable, boring and error-prone on offense. They have a roster chock full of elite athletes for this level of competition, but they can’t get them the ball in places where they can turn loose (ASU game exempt). Noel Mazzone, the OC, does not seem capable of adjustments, nor does he seem particularly interested in getting the ball consistently to the playmakers. Brett Hundley looks good but not great, and the offensive line has been atrocious. Hundley, as I see it, is not going to be a major professional quarterback. Either that, or Mazzone’s offense is worse than I think it is. The Bruins’ defense is coordinated by a guy who looks like he volunteered to coach up his son’s middle school team. Jeff Ulbrich had a great college career and played a long time in professional football, but he looks over his skis as a defensive coordinator. Why shouldn’t he be? It’s his second ever coaching job & the first was coaching linebackers. This defense has, on a play by play basis, more massive holes in it than any I can remember watching anywhere over the last 10 seasons. Opponents are eating up acreage like homesteaders and without big plays to stop them, are going to pile up points against the Bruins as well. I think Jim Mora made a hire there that is not going to work out and that is a gut punch for a team that looked to be on an rocketeer trajectory.

The Stanford offense has been another sad unit. They can’t run the ball and Kevin Hogan is not going to lead anyone to the promised land. It’s frustrating to watch as a fan of the game because you want to see things develop properly. You watch a player and group over what—three seasons now?—and build an expectation for improvement. You think you’re going to watch people more and more competent at what they do until they reach a point where they just do it well play after play and it’s the other team’s job to stop them. With Hogan, and Stanford’s offense, they stop themselves as often as the other team manages to do it and it’s a downer for the conference because that defense is nationally elite. Hogan, in my mind, has not progressed at all and even seems to be a little worse. I would probably lay that that's because the program lost a lot of better players who made Hogan look good.

Josh Estes: The most disappointing element has been the Pac-12's perceived top program's inability to shine in the spotlight. Going into 2014, Oregon, UCLA, and Stanford appeared to be the conference's favorites to make a run for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Now, it only looks like one has a shot (Oregon). Parity has washed over college football, and expecting a team to not lose a game seems like a reach--but UCLA's two losses in a row and Stanford's poor offense are disheartening for teams that should be much more productive.