Posted on November 21, 2022
Each week during the 2022 college football season, I’ll give you my 10 quick thoughts about what happened in the previous weekend’s games here in the West, primarily in the Pac-12.
Week 12 played out pretty much as expected with the favored teams winning.
The nightcap between Utah and Oregon turned into a slugfest that saw plenty of punches miss their mark, but the Ducks delivered a knockout.
While the paths of the contenders are less convoluted, three teams—Oregon, Utah, and Washington—remain in the hunt to play the Trojans in the Pac-12 Championship game.
This week, all eyes will be on the Northwest rivalries as the outcomes of the Oregon-Oregon State and Washington-Washington State games will determine the P12CG matchup.
Here are my quick takes on last weekend’s action.
1. Caleb Williams and USC’s Offense are Scary
The Trojans have made it to 8-1 in-conference, clinched the Pac-12 title game, and are absolutely blistering in Lincoln Riley’s offense with Caleb Williams at the helm.
We already knew this, but the Trojans have officially closed out the Pac-12 season with an offense that can carry them past any team in the country other than probably Georgia.
2. USC’s Defense is Also Scary (in a Bad Way)
The Trojans are still so bad on defense they could lose to a ton of teams and they’re super shaky going into the Pac-12 Championship Game.
A team like Oregon or Washington could outscore them the way UCLA almost did, and a team like Ohio State in a CFP or Rose Bowl might be able to put up 70.
3. The Familiar UCLA Fade—you Just Can’t Trust UCLA
The Bruins have spent the last 25 years or so letting you down, right when you trust them. This year was no different.
A team that just lost to a Top 10 team by three points is hard to knock on, but following up a loss at home to Arizona makes it feel extra painful.
It actually raises the question if the Bruins can even bounce back against Cal next week.
4. DTR’s Struggles
I thought DTR had turned a late corner after flawless games against Utah and Washington.
Hard to knock down a guy who just had nearly 400 total yards and six touchdowns; yet, it felt like the Bruins faded with DTR in games against Oregon and USC when he had struggles.
5. Oregon in the Driver’s Seat
The Ducks powered through a huge bounce-back win they absolutely needed against the team that embarrassed them twice last year.
The Ducks still probably have the best combination of offense, defense, and quarterback in the Conference.
They feel like the favorite to win the championship to me if they can get by Oregon State.
6. Bad Moon Rising
I’ve loved Cam Rising at Utah and have given him plenty of accolades over the past couple of years.
He really struggled at Oregon, though, in a game where the Utes could have pulled away had he just kept things clean and made some easy plays with his arm.
It will be interesting to see if he actually does turn pro, as predicted, or if he returns in 2023.
7. Rivalries for it All
USC and UCLA just decided a ton in the Conference. Next up is the Northwest schools duking it out for a lot.
The Ducks and Huskies both have to play their rivals on the road, both of which are very, very tough outs.
I’ll be surprised if Oregon and Washington both make it out unscathed.
8. Statement by the Cougars
It sure seemed like the Cougars were going to have a really hard time winning at Arizona after the Wildcats beat UCLA on the road last week and with red-hot former Cougar QB Jayden de Laura going off.
That was not the case. The Cougars dominated Arizona and de Laura for a major win down the stretch of the season.
9. Statement by the Beavers
Like the Cougars, the Beavers went down to the desert and made a statement.
They looked great against an Arizona State team on the road that had looked pretty good.
The Beavs are a very, very dangerous team for Oregon to face in Corvallis on Saturday.
10. Can USC make the CFP?
It feels like the Trojans are two wins away from being the first Pac-12 to make the CFP in a staggering six seasons.
Can the Trojans beat an improved Notre Dame team and an ultra-tough opponent in the P12CG?
And will that even be enough?