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Pac-12 Hotline: It's elimination Saturday for three conference teams

Pac-12 Hotline: It's elimination Saturday for three conference teams

  • Updated

Cal’s Dario Longhetto heads back to the sidelines after missing what would have been a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation in last weekend’s game against Washington in Seattle. The Huskies won in overtime.

Nine need-to-knows entering Week 5 in Pac-12 football:

1. Hello, goodbye. If recent conference history is our guide, then it’s elimination Saturday for three teams sitting on 1-3 records. Cal, Colorado and Washington State are one loss away from getting booted from the bowl picture.

Yes, there are two months remaining, but 1-4 is a hole from which there is seemingly no escape. That’s not mere Hotline theory, either. It’s established conference precedent.

In the decade since Pac-12 expansion, 11 teams have gotten off to 1-4 starts (or worse). None of them qualified for the postseason.

In fact, the most dramatic turnaround only resulted in a final record of 4-8, which is two wins short of the total required for bowl bids.

(Please note: We excluded the 2020 season from our calculations.)

At least one team will end this weekend in the 1-4 hole, because Cal and Washington State collide in Berkeley for three presumably desperate hours.

And it will take an unprecedented step for Colorado to avoid the 1-4 fate. The Buffaloes have never beaten their opponent this week, USC.

2. A stat you might not have expected to read. USC has won seven consecutive road games in conference play, the second-longest streak in the country behind Ohio State (10 in a row).

The Trojans save their worst performances for the home crowd. Since the road winning streak began Oct. 25, 2019 at Colorado, USC has lost three home games by multiple touchdowns.

Opponent and score:

Oregon, 56-24

Stanford, 42-28

Oregon State, 45-27

Perhaps the Trojans, who visit Boulder this weekend, should play all their games on the road. Their fans probably wouldn’t complain.

3. Stanford, which hosts No. 3 Oregon on Saturday, has won four of its past six games against opponents ranked in the top five. And in the past 20 years, the Cardinal has beaten the Ducks four times when they were in the top 10.

4. Oregon leads the country in turnover margin, with an average of +3.0 per game. The Ducks have one giveaway and 13 takeaways.

5. Although it carries a low profile, Washington’s trip to Oregon State will provide clarity on which team is best equipped to challenge Oregon for the North division title.

The Huskies have won the past nine meetings, including four in a row in Corvallis. OSU’s point totals at home in each of those four losses (chronologically): 27, 7, 7 and 7.

6. Stat tells tale for Colorado. The Buffaloes have averaged 252.6 rushing yards per game in their five wins under Karl Dorrell … and 125.4 rushing yards in their five losses.

7. UCLA has scored 35 points in six consecutive games, a school record. At the other end of the spectrum: Washington has allowed 35 points or less in 79 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the country.

8. Arizona State is No. 129 in the country in penalties (10.8) and penalty yardage (102.3) per game. The only team in major college football with more penalty problems than ASU: Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss.

9. Perfection is elusive. The number of undefeated teams, per Power Five conference:

Big Ten: 5 (Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Penn State, Iowa)

SEC: 5 (Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss)

Big 12: 3 (Baylor, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma)

ACC: 2 (Wake Forest, Boston College)

Pac-12: 1 (Oregon)

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