If we’ve learned anything about Pac-12 football in 2012 it’s to expect the unexpected.Pre-season nationally top-ranked USC and their All-American Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Matt Barkley have stumbled this year losing four games and find themselves just a game over .500 in conference play.
UCLA, with first-year coach Jim Mora, Jr, and redshirt freshman quarterback and former Chandler High star Brett Hundley have surprised many and will represent the Pac-12 South in the championship game next month.
Meanwhile in Corvallis, Mike Riley has quietly put together a solid Oregon State team (8-2, 6-2) who has already more than doubled their win total (three) from last season.
Last week David Shaw and the Andrew Luck-less Stanford Cardinal (9-2, 7-1) upset the BCS applecart going to Eugene and stunning second-ranked Oregon 17-14 in overtime. It came just moments after top-ranked Kansas State was stunned by Baylor in Waco. It was the first time since 2007 the top two teams lost on the same day (Missouri and West Virginia).
As the calendar creeps towards December there’s more uncertainty than ever with the Pac-12 possibly controlling the fate of the BCS Championship game starting Saturday night in Los Angeles as USC, without the injured Barkley, takes on new #1 Notre Dame at The Coliseum.
“Max Wittek, the kid who’s going to start [at quarterback] for USC [has little] experience, no big game experience,” ESPN BCS insider Brad Edwards explained to Brad Cesmat Tuesday on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “[But] if you buy into where he was rated as a high school recruit he’s probably more talented than most of the quarterbacks Notre Dame has faced this year. Here’s a Notre Dame team that’s never been in a national championship race before and now with one game to go, on the road in a rivalry game, they face the pressure of carrying that number-one ranking.”
Edwards believes the Ducks (10-1, 7-1), who had their hearts broken less than a week ago, can still get back in the BCS Championship picture by winning out and getting some help along the way.
“If Notre Dame loses,” Edwards told Cesmat. “I think Oregon, by the time it’s all said and done two weeks from now, will work their way up to number two in the polls. The question for Oregon is, who will they be contending with? If Florida State beats Florida and Notre Dame loses, I really have a hard time coming up with a way Oregon doesn’t work itself back in even if the Ducks don’t play in the [Pac-12] Championship game.”
In Westwood, Mora and the Bruins (9-2, 6-2) control their own BCS bowl destiny if they can knock off eighth-ranked Stanford and whoever they face in the Pac-12 title game (Stanford again or Oregon).