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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Pac-12 North: 2012 face plants

By Kevin Gemmell

Every team in the Pac-12 had a face plant in 2012 -- a forehead-slapper of a game that either completely changed the trajectory of their season or was simply one that they'd like to have back. Here's a look at the face-plant games in the North Division. Tomorrow we'll look at the exact opposite -- the signature wins of each team and the impact it had on the season.
California: The Bears' 3-9 season got off to a bad start in the opener when Nevada came into newly renovated Memorial Stadium and won 31-24. It seemed to suck the life and excitement out of a potentially promising season that eventually ended with the firing of Jeff Tedford. The offense couldn't sustain drives and the defense yielded 450 yards of offense. Bad start to a bad season.

Oregon: It's tough to call the Stanford loss a face-plant, because the Cardinal defense was really, really good in this game. Then again, the usually efficient Oregon offense looked anything but, rushing for 198 yards and breaking its streak of 13 games with at least 42 points. The laundry list of injuries the Ducks endured this season played a role. But this certainly qualifies as one the Ducks would like to have back, because it changed everything about the college football season. Had the Ducks won out, they would be in Miami.

Oregon State: It's one thing to lose at No. 14 Stanford -- though the Beavers can certainly lament winning the turnover battle 4-1 and still losing that game. Their lone turnover changed the postseason fortunes of both teams. But the loss to unranked Washington -- especially with four turnovers -- qualifies as a face-plant. It was the Beavers' first loss after opening the season 6-0, and it changed the shape of the Pac-12 North down the stretch.

Stanford: After the Cardinal won the Pac-12 title, a repeated theme among the players was "no one believed in us." That's probably because people watched the game at Washington on Sept. 27. With all of the momentum after knocking off No. 2 USC, the Cardinal went on the road for the first time in 2012 and failed to score an offensive touchdown.

Washington: On the brink of their first eight-win season of the Steve Sarkisian era, the Huskies watched Apple Cup rival Washington State mount the largest comeback in the history of the rivalry and overtake Washington in overtime. It was an epic collapse by the HUskies, and the sour taste will linger beyond the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl.

Washington State: Unfortunately for the Cougars, there are plenty to choose from. The Colorado loss -- for example -- stopped a two-game winning streak and sent the Cougars spiraling into an eight-game slide. But I still think the season opener against BYU was the face-plant game. For starters, it was the first televised college football game of the 2012 season. Everyone tuned in to watch Mike Leach in his WSU debut. And the Cougars failed to score a touchdown. The offense looked disjointed, and the attitude issues from certain players that would plague the team all season were on display for a national audience to see.