Pac-12 rewind: Division clarity, bowl math, QB whiffs, coaching stability, twin collapses and more

Washington State acting head coach Jake Dickert reacts after a win over Arizona in an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in Pullman, Wash. Washington State won 44-18 and became bowl eligible.

Washington State acting head coach Jake Dickert reacts after a win over Arizona in an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in Pullman, Wash. Washington State won 44-18 and became bowl eligible. (Ted S. Warren, Associated Press)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

Recapping the best and worst of Week 13 in Pac-12 football …

Theme of the week I: Blowouts

Six of the seven games were decided by at least two scores. We had hoped for drama but received very little on the final weekend of conference play. Thankfully, rivalry games in other leagues (Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC) produced an epic Saturday.

Theme of the week II: Coaching news

Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson reportedly told the Sun Devils that coach Herm Edwards would return for 2022. Meanwhile, WSU removed the interim tag from Jake Dickert and Oregon State locked up Jonathan Smith through 2027. There is much to be said for stability, especially when the supply of quality options in the marketplace is limited. What might have been a massive amount of turnover at the top should be limited, perhaps only to USC and Washington.

Theme of the season I: Bowl bids

The Pac-12 has six bowl-eligible teams (ASU, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, Utah and Washington State), meaning it won't fill the seventh slot in its lineup: the ESPN at-large bowl. It's the lowest total since the 2016 season, when there also were six eligible teams.

Theme of the season II: Twin collapses

It wasn't long ago that Stanford and Washington owned the North: from 2015-18, the programs traded division titles. But things have fallen apart, quickly. The Cardinal finished the 2021 season with three wins, its worst record in 15 years. The Huskies finished 4-8, their worst mark since 2008.

Theme of the season III: QB whiffs

Jayden de Laura's sensational play down the stretch is a reminder that he didn't start the season opener. If he had, the Cougars might have beaten Utah State. So let's be sure to include WSU on the list of schools that whiffed on the selection of the Week One starter. Stanford, Utah, Oregon State and WSU are the most prominent. But Arizona and USC arguably began the year with their best option on the bench, as well.

Team of the week: Oregon

The Ducks recovered impressively from their meltdown in Salt Lake City, grabbing an early lead against OSU and churning to a division-clinching victory. Coach Mario Cristobal and the gang are one victory, in Las Vegas, from a likely rematch with Ohio State (in the Rose Bowl). After the victory over OSU, Cristobal hopped on a plane to visit his ailing mother in South Florida. We wish him the best.

Game of the week: Brigham Young 35, USC 31

It didn't mean much outside of extinguishing USC's bowl hopes, but it sure was an entertaining watch. The Trojans rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to grab a 31-28 lead in the fourth quarter, only to have the Cougars score the game-winner with four minutes remaining.

Player of the week: Jayden de Laura

The WSU quarterback carved up the top pass defense in the country, completing 27-of-32 passes for 245 yards and leading the Cougars to their first Apple Cup victory since 2012 — and their largest margin of victory ever in the rivalry.

Coach of the week: Jake Dickert

The interim tag was removed approximately 24 hours after Dickert guided Washington State to its first Apple Cup victory in nine years. What impressed us the most was WSU's ability to play with a high level of emotion but avoid turnovers and major mistakes on special teams. That's not an easy feat in the heat of a rivalry game.

Stat of the week: Tavion Thomas

The Utah tailback scored one touchdown against Colorado, bring his total to 12 over the past four games. In that stretch, Thomas is averaging 143.3 yards per game. He has been the best back in the conference over the final month.

Stat of November: Stanford

The Cardinal scored three first-half points for the entire month. That's right: Eight quarters over four games resulted in three points. And each ended in a blowout loss.

Stat of the half century: Arizona State

The Sun Devils beat Arizona for the fifth consecutive time, their longest winning streak in the Territorial Cup since the early 1970s.

Game of next week: Utah vs. Oregon

A rematch of the Dec. 6, 2019 conference championship (Oregon won handily) and the Nov. 20, 2021 regular-season duel (Utah dominated). The Ducks are playing for their third consecutive Pac-12 title while the Utes are playing for their first-ever trip to the Rose Bowl. Utah is an early 3-point favorite. It's tough to beat a team twice, especially in such a short window. We like the Ducks, 27-23.

And if you're planning to attend the game, here's a statement from the conference office on COVID protocols in Allegiant Stadium:

"The Pac-12 Football Championship Game will follow local health authority protocols in Las Vegas. Currently, all fans must wear masks at public indoor venues, and that includes Allegiant Stadium."


Jon Wilner's Pac-12 Hotline is brought to KSL.com through a partnership with the Bay Area News Group.


Jon Wilner has been covering college sports for decades and is an AP Top 25 football and basketball voter as well as a Heisman Trophy voter. He was named Beat Writer of the Year in 2013 by the Football Writers Association of America for his coverage of the Pac-12, won first place for feature writing in 2016 in the Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest and is a five-time APSE honoree. You can follow him on Twitter @WilnerHotline or send an email at jwilner@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Pac-12 Hotline: Subscribe to the Pac-12 Hotline Newsletter. Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.

Jon Wilner

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