What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 14

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
10:00
AM ET
What did we learn from Week 14 of Pac-12 action?

It's Oregon: In the preseason it was "Oregon or Stanford." When Oregon lost to LSU, it became "Stanford or Oregon." But when the fog -- man, Eugene, you do have some fog -- cleared, it was the Ducks. Again. For a third consecutive time. Oregon overcame an early loss, injuries and the Andrew Luck Phenomenon to win the first Pac-12 title game. Now can the Ducks beat ...

It's Wisconsin: The first question of the bowl season is who does the conference champion play? Rose Bowl or national title game? Well, Oregon's loss to USC knocked it out of the national title debate, so that leaves the Ducks headed to the Rose Bowl. And, in a thrilling Big Ten title game, Wisconsin outlasted Michigan State. So it's Ducks and Badgers, which will be simplistically billed as speed versus power, as most Big Ten-Pac-12 matchups are.

USC-Oregon would have been fun to see: It's become an accepted fact among informed college football observers that the NCAA sanctions against USC were a travesty of justice, and the NCAA's refusal to revisit that travesty are a massive act of cowardice on the part of the organization. That's the take of all clear-thinking people. (NCAA folks, just admit you blew it. The NCAA would take a huge step toward wiping away dumbfounding hypocrisy with a moment of honest self-reflection.) We, again, point out the obvious because it would have been electric to see two top-10 teams play in Autzen Stadium on Friday to truly figure out who the best team was in the Pac-12.

Cougs are relevant again: Washington State's hiring of Mike Leach gives the program instant credibility. He's a top-20 coach who knows how to win without elite, across-the-board talent. The Cougs were already taking steps forward the past two years under Paul Wulff. Wulff collected talent that can be competitive in the Pac-12. Leach immediately puts the program back into the North Division discussion.

Uncertainty at Arizona State and UCLA: Arizona State wanted Kevin Sumlin and UCLA wanted Chris Petersen. It appears that neither is going to get its first choice. Rumors are swirling, but there is nothing of substance for either program yet. While Washington State quickly filled its post, it's uncertain whether either the Sun Devils or Bruins will hire a coach quickly. That may be due to insecurity for both athletic directors. Prolonged coaching searches are not good. Both programs need to figure things out and quickly.

Ted Miller | email

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