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Canzano: Pac-12 strength comes from surprising place
UO, OSU, UW, WSU are combined 11-1.
I used to watch a television quiz show called “The Weakest Link.” Maybe you remember the production. It featured eight contestants and a format that was like “Survivor” meets “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”
The contestants answered trivia questions. Money was added to the pot with every correct answer. At the end of every round, one person was voted off until there was only a winner left.
It felt like a college football Saturday.
The Pac-12 Conference answered some big questions this weekend in a resounding manner. Five teams made it through Week 3 still undefeated. Four others have only one loss. The Pac-12’s non-conference record: 24-9.
Commissioner George Kliavkoff has to be feeling good about the opening few weeks. After the Week 1 nosedive vs. the SEC, life has been a lot better. The Pac-12 flexed a couple of times against ranked teams from the Big Ten, pounded the Mountain West Conference, and finally beat BYU.
My mind is on the Pacific Northwest today. The records of Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State are a combined 11-1. The lone loss in the pod came vs. Georgia in Week 1.
On Saturday, the Ducks dismantled No. 12 BYU 41-20 at Autzen Stadium. I was there and wrote a column about the emergence of quarterback Bo Nix. Washington, meanwhile, beat No. 11 Michigan State 39-28. And Oregon State and WSU both won convincingly.
Can anyone remember the four programs from the Pacific Northwest collectively looking better?
It’s not just that they’re winning games. It’s the way they’re doing it. The offenses look great. The defenses are playing fast. The quarterback play is sharp. There are no weak links and the consolidated energy around the four football programs has never felt stronger.
Utah is tough and USC has assembled a “dream team” on offense, sure. (I can’t decide what to do with UCLA.) But the four programs from the Pacific Northwest have formed into a group of conference-championship contenders. None of us should be surprised when one of the northwest schools shows up in Las Vegas on Dec. 2 to play USC/Utah for the conference championship.
A few fun facts:
• Oregon State is 3-0. WSU is 3-0. It’s the first time since 1915 that the Beavers and Cougars both started 3-0 in the same season. That’s not a typo. That was 107 years ago.
• Oregon’s victory on Saturday snapped the Pac-12’s five-game losing streak vs. BYU.
• Washington’s “upset” of MSU broke the Huskies’ six-game losing streak vs. ranked Big Ten opponents.
• Washington State hasn’t given up more than 17 points in a game this season. Idaho managed that total in the opener, Wisconsin scored 14 in Week 2, and Colorado State only netted seven points on Saturday.
The Huskies look lethal on offense with QB Michael Penix Jr. (347 passing yards and 4 TDs) and have a great group of receivers. WSU’s front seven is disruptive on defense. Oregon State knows exactly who it is and understands how to win. And Oregon has talent at a few key positions.
The Pac-12’s weakest link?
It’s not any of those schools. Colorado currently has that locked up. The Buffaloes have been non-competitive. After that, Arizona State (1-2) has been disappointing. The Sun Devils lost to Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
Which is the best college football team in the Pacific Northwest pod?
You tell me.
WSU hosts Oregon next Saturday in Pullman. So we’ll get some head-to-head clarity there. Oregon State welcomes USC to Corvallis for what could be the final time ever. The Beavers pile drove the Trojans last season, will they do it again? Washington, meanwhile, plays a rested Stanford team.
I’m just going to enjoy the ride. And I hope fans of the Beavers, Cougars, Ducks and Huskies do, too.
PHOTO GALLERY: I had three photographers working on Saturday. Serena Morones and Taylor Balkom were at the Oregon-BYU game. They produced an outstanding gallery of photos from the Ducks’ 41-20 victory.
Tim Healy, another talented photographer, worked the Oregon State vs. Montana State game for JohnCanzano.com. He captured the atmosphere at Providence Park and the 68-28 Beavers’ victory in a photo gallery.
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