Arizona was the Pac-12’s lone undefeated team entering play in Week 7, but the Wildcats suffered a loss at home to USC. This loss could prove to be troubling for the Pac-12 down the road, but hold off on thinking the Pac-12 is out of the playoff picture. Just as it was nonsense to write the Big Ten off after two weeks, the Pac-12 still has half a season to make a case for a team to participate in the first College Football Playoff.
It would be silly to suggest on October 12 the Pac-12 is out with half a season still to play. Oregon is still sitting there with one loss and a chance to creep up the pecking order as the SEC West continues to pick each other apart. Florida State and Notre Dame play each other this weekend too, guaranteeing a loss to one of the undefeated teams standing in front of Oregon. And there are still five other teams with one loss. Is it depth of a good conference, or piling up on lesser competition? Perhaps a mix of both.
If the College Football Playoff selection committee is going to give preference to teams winning a conference championship, then a team like Oregon still stands a terrific chance to enter the four-team playoff at the end of the season. Remember, Oregon carries a head-to-head victory against Michigan State in their pocket, and they still have Stanford on the schedule. Stanford is likely going to need some help with two losses already. Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Washington all have a single loss. How much stock you put on those teams may vary, but the point is the Pac-12 is far from being on life support at this point in the season. The way things are lined up right now, Oregon would appear to have the best chance to represent the Pac-12, but they obviously have to win the rest of their games. Can you trust Oregon to do that? Can you trust any of these one-loss teams to run the table? The Pac-12 may need one school to do just that.
A one-loss Pac-12 champion will likely have a solid profile for consideration, but a two-loss champion begins to need some help in all likelihood. If any Pac-12 team ends the year with one loss, the odds may be favorable when stacked up against a conference champion from the Big Ten. The Pac-12 would benefit from Baylor taking a loss in the Big 12, and if Florida State happened to be upset at some point that would be welcome as well for the Pac-12. What would really help the Pac-12 would be if Notre Dame defeated Florida State. Notre Dame has games against Arizona State and USC later this season.
The bottom line is, it is still too early to begin suggesting one conference is out of the playoff, as much as the pundits may want to fill two College Football Playoff spots with teams from the SEC West right now. The College Football Playoff selection committee will begin releasing its updated ranking system later this month, which will begin to offer some suggestion of where teams actually stand. The Pac-12 should have no reason to worry just yet.