All of the talk heading into Week 11 was how the Big 12 could be on the outside of the playoff window looking in when all of the dust settled. After Saturday’s events, it’s the Pac-12 whose playoff aspirations are on life support.
The Pac-12 opened Week 11 play with every team but two with at least two losses, the lone exceptions being one-loss Stanford and one-loss Utah. The Cardinal crippled the conference playoff hopes with a loss to Oregon to fall to 8-2. A couple of hours later, the likely fatal playoff blow was delivered by Arizona, which dropped Utah in double overtime.
Just like that, every member of the Pac-12 now has at least two losses.
Compare that to the rest of the Power Five conferences, whether it be the ACC with two teams with one of fewer losses; the Big 12 with four teams; the Big Ten with four teams; and the SEC with two. Add in one-loss independent Notre Dame and unbeaten Houston, and the Pac-12 would seemingly have to hope that north of a dozen teams trip up at least once, and some of them twice, in order for any of that conference’s teams to even get a sniff of one of the four semifinal spots.
Chaos is certainly possible; utter and complete chaos like the Pac-12 needs? Highly, highly, highly unlikely.
In the end, and thanks to the Pac-12 eviscerating itself, the playoff picture is slowly coming into focus. At this point, it appears the four playoff participants will be some combination of the SEC champion (likely Alabama-Florida winner), the champions from the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12, and Notre Dame. And if Stanford should knock off Notre Dame, it’d be the four Power Five conferences that didn’t cripple themselves that will be dancing on New Year’s Eve.
Regardless of how you parse it, the Pac-12 will get to taste exactly what the Big 12 did in 2014: how bitter a playoff-less holiday season really is when you’re in a power conference.
Don’t get too comfortable, though, Big 12; you really need to become dues-paying Stanford fans or else it could very well be back-to-back seasons on the playoff sidelines. At least this time, though, you’d have P5 commiseration.