The Bruins were already pretty dead, but winning out would still have meant a Pac-12 Championship and a semblance of a possibility of Playoff contention. Some other things would have had to happen: another conference imploding and Notre Dame losing one more time, but the chance was out there. Instead UCLA got air raided by Mike Leach’s Washington State and is now walking over to the “Playoff Rejects” section, grimly nodding to the familiar conference faces, two of which you can find below.
Remember when Utah was getting No. 1 votes? That’s kind of why you don’t base rankings solely on resume in the first half of the season. It was bad enough when they got dominated by a USC team that had recently fired its head coach, but now they’ve fallen to a five-loss Arizona team and are probably out at this point. USC owns the division tiebreaker and even if the Trojans lose, the Utes are carrying two rough-looking losses into a Playoff race with a large number of one-loss teams.
The Tigers already had their big chance get grinded to death by Alabama a week earlier, but losing to the Fighting Bielemas means they are locked out of the SEC Championship game. If LSU had won out and Alabama had somehow found a way to top the shock of the Kick Six and lose to a putrid Auburn team, we’d be having a different conversation. Instead, the Crimson Tide have won the SEC West and we can now laugh at every “Is Alabama done?” column written after that bizarre Ole Miss game. Hail Saban.
We don’t like to admit it, but an early bad loss is much less harmful to your eventual ranking than a late good loss. The Cardinal took advantage of this by losing to Northwestern in Week 1, then looking like a weaker, smarter man’s Alabama for the rest of the season. If Stanford had prevailed against its old friend Oregon last weekend, the regular season finale against Notre Dame would essentially have been a play-in game for the CFP. Instead, all the Cardinal can be now are spoilers.
This team is by far the least dead of all the teams listed. Instead, it’s like they have lost their safety net and are precariously perched on a highwire while the two best teams in the conference prepare to shake them down. The Big 12 is gloriously chaotic, but the flip side to that is it’s not good if you want a Playoff berth. The Bears will now play Oklahoma State and TCU in the next two weeks. If they lose even one, they are out. If they win, they’re going to need some help.