The Pac-12 needs Arizona State to be in the College Football Playoff conversation

Ever since the College Football Playoff was established in 2014, the conference championship game has been reduced to being nothing more than the method of propping up the flag carrier. Look no further than the Big 12. The lack of a title game left out TCU and Baylor in the first year of the new era. It is the only Power 5 conference to have a title game without divisions, meaning the top two teams in the standings play for the crown. 

It’s basically a bonus ranked game for Oklahoma, whom has won the conference championship every year since 2015. We all got a sequel of the Red River Rivalry in 2018 because of it and this year might bring back-to-back Bedlam. Both No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 12 Oklahoma State are currently undefeated.

The Pac-12 is another example of a conference that needs the perfect matchup in the title game to give them a chance in the playoff. One of things I personally love about the Pac-12 is the parity, nearly every game is competitive. Unfortunately, the CFP committee doesn’t look at parity too kindly. Which means the top two teams need to meet for the conference title game for their best chance at crashing the party. 

No. 9 Oregon and No. 18 Arizona State are both on top of their respective divisions and won face each other unless they meet in the title game. The Ducks lost to Stanford in overtime but the Sun Devils avoided the Cardinal’s attempt at a second consecutive upset with a 28-10 blowout win on Friday. 

It was the best defensive performance of the year for the Sun Devils, who had a pick six that involved a lateral pass from Jack Jones to Deandre Pierce for the score.

“That’s just instinctive,” ASU coach Herm Edwards said, “when a guy is able to, first of all intercept the ball, but before he goes down, (Deandre) Pierce goes behind him and Jack tosses it to him. That kind of stuff you just do on instinct and I’m glad it worked because if we would have fumbled it you’d see a mad head coach. It’s all pretty when it happens and it works, it’s just football. Guys are having fun and it was just a great play on both of them.”

“Yeah, the wide-receivers on Stanford are tall with 6’4 and ‘6’5  so we knew we had to match-up well in order to not let them get into a rhythm on offense,” Jones said.

The Sun Devils have gone 1-1 in ranked matchups but are one of two teams with perfect conference records in the Pac-12. That will change this week when ASU takes on Utah.

Oregon should win its remaining six games as there are no ranked teams left on the schedule. An early season win over No. 3 Ohio State served as the only ranked matchup and victory for the Ducks. That makes playing Arizona State in the title game important.

It is in the Pac-12’s best interest to have both Oregon and Arizona State meet in the conference title game without another loss. But will that be enough to distinguish the winner with Cincinnati?

Cincinnati has so far backed its perfect regular season last year with a 5-0 record including a win over No. 9 Notre Dame. The No. 3 Bearcats only have one more ranked matchup remaining in the schedule, assuming No. 23 SMU doesn’t lose until then. It would be interesting to see if the committee will respect Cincinnati’s victories or gradually move the Bearcats down the rankings.

About: Tony Capobianco

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Sports Kave senior writer and podcast host

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