If you are reading this, then congratulations, for you have made it halfway through the college football season.
This is no easy feat for Pac-12 fans, who have been subject to one of the conference’s deepest, and therefore most volatile, seasons yet. Let’s take a quick stock of what each fan base has endured this season, beginning with those very confused Ducks fans, who know not what to make of this hapless outfit they’ve been watching this season.
If you are an Oregon fan, you have, somehow, survived a 42-point loss at home AND a double-overtime loss at home to, of all teams, Washington State. This, of course, comes less than a year after you were in the national title game being led by a Heisman winning quarterback. I’m not going to say you have come out of this without 15 extra pounds of liquid carbohydrates, but hey, you survived.
If you are a Utah fan, you have survived what must be the most raucous seven weeks of celebrations Salt Lake City has ever seen. Utah does not start 6-0. Utah does not nuke Oregon by 42, in Eugene. Utah does not beat back-to-back ranked opponents. Utah does not have consistently excellent quarterback play. This is all new ground for the Utes, and obviously for the Ute faithful. Utah is actually historically awful against Pac-12 teams, going 92-142 dating back to 1902, which makes its 6-0 start all the more surprising, especially when the hot picks in the preseason were Arizona State and USC.
And about those Trojans…if you’re a Trojan fan, I genuinely applaud you. How there are still this many of you left, I have no idea, for you’ve endured the Kiffin era, the annual preseason hype and the subsequent collapses. You’ve endured a midnight firing of a coach, at an airport, only to bring in a new coach, Steve Sarkisian, who was supposed to be the answer. And you endured Sarkisian, who was not the answer, who was so far off the answer that athletic director Pat Haden’s job is in legitimate jeopardy if his new hire doesn’t bring home a conference title. So congratulations, you’ve made it. It only goes up from here…right?
Evidently Arizona hit its proverbial ceiling, and up is no longer a direction it is going. If you’re a Wildcat fan, you have watched your beloved team play seven games, two of which were meaningful, UCLA and Stanford. And you survived watching consecutive blowouts in which your Wildcats allowed 56 and 55 and failed to combine for either total between those two games. And then you survived an uncomfortably close game against Colorado.
Speaking of those Buffs, they’re not so bad, huh? They won three straight games. Colorado did that! And maybe you got false hope. Maybe, you so unwisely thought, this would be a soft breakout year, like a 7-5 or 8-4 year, with one of those bowl things at the end of the season. But then the Pac-12 schedule rolled around, and that three-game winning streak was quickly reversed into a three-game losing streak. But you continue to support the Buffs, because there’s not a whole lot more to do in Colorado when it’s not yet snowing. So you survive, because this is what you do every year, because this is Colorado.
A similar mindset could theoretically be implemented at Oregon State. The Beavers have been on the bottom so long it’s a wonder if they know what the top of the standings look like, because even when their defensive coordinator said things couldn’t get worse after a 44-7 loss to Arizona, they got worse, way worse, when Luke Falk and Wazzou torched them for six first half touchdowns.
If you’re one of those people who root for Falk and that Wazzou team, you survived one of the more ignominious losses of the Pac-12 season, in the opener to Portland State, so right away you knew that hopes for the season should be limited. But you survived long enough to see the Cougars beat Oregon, and then destroy that hapless Oregon State team.
And you know who didn’t beat Oregon? Washington. The Huskies made it close, at least, keeping it to 26-20, which is far from the worst loss they could have at this point in the season. You survived a season-opening loss to Boise State, which appears significantly worse with each passing week. And you survived another tantalizingly close loss to Cal, which, combined with the three you lost to Boise and the six to Oregon, makes a total of 15 points in three losses. You could be 6-0 as easily as you are 3-3, and you know this, and you have survived.
You know who could not be 6-0? Arizona State. The Sun Devils, along with Auburn and Arkansas, were the hot preseason picks by savvy sports writers who just knew. And now its midseason, and ASU is 4-3, and losses to Texas A&M, USC and Utah were not close. You have survived a season full of hope and promise turn quite the opposite direction, quite quickly.
Stanford has actually pulled the anti-ASU. The Cardinal put together one of the most boring football games one could ever watch in a season-opening loss to Northwestern, who, it has been determined, was enjoying some rather ephemeral early season success. But then you beat USC by 10, and Arizona by a billion, and UCLA by 21, and suddenly you’re right back on top of this roller coaster ride. You don’t know if it’s going to keep going up, or take a precipitous dive with nothing but trap games left, but you’re here, you survived the monotonous torture that was that Northwestern game, and you’re happy about that.
You might not be so happy if you’re a UCLA fan, surviving and still clinging onto hope that Josh Rosen is, truly, the Chosen One. I’m not saying he’s not. He’s an intensely gifted young man who can throw the hell out of a football. But he’s a freshman, and the overblown hype surrounding him after UCLA throttled Virginia, mostly at the hands of Rosen, was ludicrous and absurd. And it has proven as such, as his numbers continue to decline, and the Bruins continue to lose, two straight now. But you know what? You’ve survived to see what the future has in store for this UCLA quarterback.
Which leads us to the legitimate contender for best quarterback in the conference: Jared Goff. And if you’re a Cal fan, well, you’ve survived the worst of Goff, which has nearly given you four consecutive heart attacks, and you’ve survived all of those, too.
Well, we’ve made it this far. Now, who’s ready for Week 8?