One month into their final season, the Pac-12 conference is undoubtedly the best conference in America. With at least three Heisman frontrunners, the most exciting team in college football this season, and now four teams in the AP top 10, the Conference of Champions is going out with a bang.
After four weeks of action, overreactions from earlier in the year have been proven true or false, and there’s now a significant sample size to form opinions on the conference’s top teams. While these may be bold, every college football fan should agree with these three takes.
3 Pac-12 Hot Takes That Everyone Should Agree With
Georgia Would Struggle Against Washington, USC, and Oregon
Georgia is a very good football team despite taking a blatant step back from the past two seasons. The Bulldogs wouldn’t be the top team if voters didn’t think that after four quarters of play, Georgia would be victorious against any team in the nation.
The key word here is ‘struggle.’ The reason is that Georgia takes a quarter or two to warm up and unlock their full potential. In Week 3, they trailed at halftime to South Carolina. Last week, they held a seven-point lead after the first quarter against UAB. While the Bulldogs won both contests, it’s very uncharacteristic that a team that’s dominated the past two years has a slow start to games.
The Pac-12’s top teams, on the other hand, have done most of their scoring in the first half. USC hung seven touchdowns on Stanford in the first half of their Week 2 matchup. Oregon was up 35-0 at half on Colorado this week, and Washington’s Michael Penix, Jr. threw four touchdowns against Cal in the first half.
When facing a team that comes out strong, Georgia would be forced to play catch-up all game long. In the case of the three Pac-12 teams, they have the ability to score every time their offense is on the field. They won’t ease off the gas against the Bulldogs, which would make for a tough battle unless Georgia solves its first-half woes.
All Four (Possibly Five) Heisman Finalists Will Come From the Pac-12
Four weeks in, Penix and USC’s Caleb Williams lead the field for the award. Penix leads the NCAA in touchdown passes and earned Washington a first-place vote in the AP Poll. Williams had an off-game against Arizona State this weekend, yet still accounted for five scores. Unlike other years where the reigning winner plays the next season, there’s a legitimate case for Williams to be the first repeat winner in 50 years.
Then there’s Shedeur Sanders and Bo Nix. While his dad put Colorado on the map this season, Sanders silenced the doubters and is proving to be the real deal as a signal caller. His one bad game came against Nix and Oregon, who can make a case for himself when the Ducks play USC and Washington later this year.
Finally, you can’t count out Sanders’ teammate, Travis Hunter. He’s out with an injury right now, but Hunter may be the best two-way player in recent history. The former No. 1 overall recruit has validated that ranking in front of a national audience in the games he’s played this season.
It’s possible all five of them are in New York for the trophy presentation in December, but there is no exact number of finalists per year, making this tough to predict. Maybe Michigan’s Blake Corum will make an appearance, but as of now no player outside of the Pac-12 has received any Heisman attention. The way these guys are playing right now, this won’t change anytime soon.
A One-Loss Pac-12 Champion Makes the College Football Playoff
This is a huge claim for a conference that’s always treated like a Group of Five conference by the committee. But the tides have shifted and the Pac-12 is the most dominant conference. Unless the four other conferences have an undefeated champion, the Pac-12 champ won’t be left out despite losing one game.
They may be ranked 7-10 this week, but those likely won’t last as Washington, USC, Oregon, and Utah play round-robin style throughout the rest of the season. USC also heads to South Bend two weekends from now to play No. 11 Notre Dame.
A loss in any of those games would be a “quality loss,” and voters would keep them in consideration for a playoff spot depending on how the season plays out. Whichever team is able to turn the season around after a loss, head to the Pac-12 championship and win the title holds a huge resume boost over the rest of the college football field; and with what we’ve seen so far, these teams should have no problem passing the eye test.