Pac-12's bottom 10 teams come up short of goals
PHOENIX (AP) Stanford and Southern California fought through some difficult stretches to reach the Pac-12 championship game. That puts the Cardinal and Trojans in position to win the title every team in the conference was shooting toward.
That leaves 10 other teams short of reaching their goal, some by quite a bit more than they expected.
So as we get ready for the title game in Northern California on Saturday, let's take a look at how the rest of the conference got to this point and where they're headed next.
Record: 9-3, 7-2 Pac-12.
The lowdown: A close loss to Michigan State in their second game probably would not have hurt the Ducks had they rallied quickly. Losing QB Vernon Adams to a hand injury killed their chances. The Ducks were superb when Adams returned, winning their final six games, but will be wondering what might have been had their quarterback been healthy.
What's likely next: Alamo or Holiday Bowl.
Record: 9-3, 6-3.
The lowdown: The Utes appeared to be the Pac-12's best chance at earning a spot in the College Football Playoff after winning their first six games. A loss to USC knocked them back a bit, but there was still a chance after wins over Oregon State and Washington. Utah's CFP bid ended with a road loss to unranked Arizona and a loss to UCLA pretty much ended its Pac-12 South hopes.
What's likely next: Holiday, Sun or Las Vegas Bowl.
Record: 8-4, 6-3.
The lowdown: This was the turnaround season they've been waiting for in Pullman. After years of being the Pac-12's punching bag, the Cougars were more than competitive this season. An opening loss to Portland State was ugly, but Washington State knocked off Oregon in Eugene, Arizona in Tucson and UCLA in Pasadena.
What's likely next: Sun, Las Vegas or Foster Farms Bowl.
Record: 8-4, 5-4.
The lowdown: Like Utah, the Bruins had the look of a potential CFP team. Their bid ended a bit earlier, with consecutive losses to Arizona State and Stanford. Injuries were the biggest issue. UCLA's defense was decimated by players going down, including do-everything linebacker Myles Jack. Despite all the attrition, the Bruins still had a shot at the Pac-12 South, but lost to rival USC at the Coliseum.
What's likely next: Las Vegas, Sun or Cactus Bowl.
Record: 7-5, 4-5.
The lowdown: The Bears and QB Jared Goff looked great in nonconference and opened the Pac-12 with a pair of wins. Then the bottom fell out. Cal lost four straight games and followed with another to rival Stanford. Goff had some rough patches, but finished with a flourish, throwing for a school-record 542 yards and two touchdowns in a last-second win over Arizona State.
What's likely next: Cactus, Las Vegas or possibly the New Mexico Bowl.
Record: 6-6, 4-5.
The lowdown: A trendy preseason pick to reach the CFP, the Sun Devils never lived up to expectations. Their high-octane offense, led by Mike Bercovici, sputtered at times, while the aggressive defense created lots of tackles for losses, but also gave up way too many big plays.
What's likely next: Cactus, Heart of Dallas or Armed Forces Bowl.
Record: 6-6. 4-5.
The lowdown: The Huskies' second season under coach Chris Petersen started with a loss to Boise State and no real momentum until the end of the season, when they won their final two games to become bowl eligible.
What's likely next: Las Vegas, Sun or New Mexico Bowl.
Record: 6-6, 3-6.
The lowdown: Injuries and a brutal schedule did the Wildcats in. They lost All-American linebacker Scooby Wright in the opener and he was lost for the rest of the season after being injured his first game back. The injuries continued to pile up and Arizona had no chance to recover with a schedule that had 12 straight weeks without a break.
What's likely next: Armed Forces, New Mexico or Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Record: 4-9, 1-8.
The lowdown: The Buffaloes surpassed their win total from a year ago in their first four games, which included a victory over rival Colorado State. Colorado's only conference win came against Oregon State, the only team below it in the Pac-12 standings.
What's likely next: A long offseason.
Record: 2-10, 0-8.
The lowdown: The Gary Andersen era started with two wins in the first three games. Other than a four-point loss to Colorado, the Beavers lost by an average of 27 points.
What's likely next: A longer offseason.