There is more to the PAC-12 this week than Oregon and Washington playing for the Conference title. That game in Las Vegas brings to an end an epic endeavor that began in 1915 to join West Coast sports together into one conference.
Many of us grew up with the PAC-12 on our Saturdays, in our headlines, and in our dreams. It was a matter for water-cooler banters, tailgate shenanigans, and post-game “what ifs.”
But after this week, all we will have are old memories and new laments. We never cheated on the PAC-12. We were faithful. We didn’t leave it; it left us.
Big media money seduced decision-makers and separated us from more than a century of our cherished traditions while also smothering the “amateur” out of our “isms.” What began as a noble West Coast endeavor has become a Midwest cash cow.
Indeed, cash is the quest of modern sports, and the avidity for it will continue to grow until it reaches the point of inevitable collapse. Perhaps then, our teams will come home, and our traditions will revive.
In the meantime, I’ll miss those Saturdays.
What I won’t miss is USC. I confess I became weary of the Trojans getting all of the pub even when their teams were in the pubes. Year after year the media blared USC-this and USC-that despite Trojan football not winning a bowl game since 2016.
Let’s see how well that works in the shadows of Ohio State, which has ruled Big Ten media for decades.
Envy of USC dominating the media is a thing of the past, and maybe it’s time to set aside our snide derisions and be kinder to the Trojans.
Maybe it’s no longer fashionable to say that although I don’t often talk to USC grads when I do, I order fries.
PAC-12 Championship Game
[All rankings shown below are from my savvygameline.com system and not from wire services, polls, coaches, etc.)
#6 Washington (12-0) vs #3 Oregon (11-1)
With just ten games on the national FBS schedule, the airwaves are filled with a plethora of facts and opinions for each of these teams in the PAC-12 championship game.
Most opinions seem favorable to Oregon and often include Oregon’s statistical advantages in rushing, defense, offensive line, and quarterback Bo Nix, who ranks at the top of the nation’s all-time pass completion percentage (79.6%) and most passing yards.
Washington’s heralded senior quarterback, Michael Penix Jr., led the nation in several passing categories last year and early this season but has fallen since the start of PAC-12 play.
Washington has reduced its reliance on his arm by 20% from what it was a year ago. That seems like an odd tactic when your quarterback was a national leader in several categories, and your rush attack has proven to be mediocre (43rd in YPC) and well below average (85th) for hanging onto the ball.
Unless UW turns Penix loose against Oregon, the Huskies will continue to slog through another day of underachievement. Yes, they have been winning, but they haven’t been convincing.
Oregon has maintained its commitment to the passing of Bo Nix much the same as last year. What has changed for Oregon is the wizardry of new offensive coordinator Will Stein, who has produced the most lethal offense in the nation.
Those are meaningful reasons to favor Oregon, but I also want to talk about something else: momentum.
The Oregon Ducks are the runaway leaders in my Savvy analytics when it comes to momentum. No program in America comes close to the Ducks, not even Michigan, which has been number one in my system’s team rankings for more than two months.
What that means is that Michigan has the heritage to be favored for the national championship, but Oregon’s performance lines make the Ducks a clear threat.
Washington does not have performance metrics like those of past contenders and will not likely go far should the Huskies win the PAC-12 title game and enter the national playoff.
My system favors Oregon in the PAC-12 championship game by a margin of 36-30.
Last week, my system was 51-14 in predicting winners and now stands at 645-212 for the 2023 regular season. It is 1% better than bookmakers in predicting winners, ten games better in predicting spreads, and 53 games better in projecting total game points.
You can see all Savvy Index predictions this week by clicking here.