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The End of Pac-12 Football is Upon Us

When Arizona State lost 59-23 to Arizona in their game on Sunday, many understood that it was their final Pac-12 game ever. Then Cal beat UCLA at midnight that night, and the final Pac-12 regular season game ended. Oregon and Washington will square off in the final Pac-12 championship game. So, as we prepare for the end of the Pac-12, let’s look at what many consider the best year of the Pac-12 in the last 20 years.

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UCLA, USC, Oregon, and Washington started the demise of the Pac-12 when they announced their move to the Big 10. Then Utah and Colorado announced they were moving to the Big 12. Arizona and Arizona State followed them to the Big 12 only a few hours later. Stanford and Cal were headed to the ACC only a few weeks later. All of a sudden, it was over. With only Washington State and Oregon State on the outside looking in, the country started to mourn the loss of the Power 5 Conference.

However, that didn’t stop the play on the football field, as the Pac-12 put together one of their best seasons in conference history. They had three different QBs leading the Heisman odds at some point this season. 9 of the 12 teams were ranked in the top 25 at some point. The Pac-12 still has two teams with legit chances to make the College Football Playoff, including an undefeated Washington.

The Pac-12 season started with USC, Washington, Utah, and Oregon as the favorites in the conference. #1 overall pick Caleb Williams led USC, Utah lost their top two QBs and still ranked in the top 15 most of the year, and Heisman favorite Bo Nix led Oregon.

Then, Washington came and conquered. They had Micheal Penix Jr at QB, and he was flying up draft leaderboards with his play and the ability to get the ball out quickly. They beat Oregon in one of the games of the year 36-33 and never looked back, taking down everyone in their path, even with some games looking very ugly.

With Deion Sanders at the helm, Colorado made a lot of noise early. They won their first three games and were media darlings. However, they lost their last six games and missed a bowl game. They are bringing Shadeur Sanders back for another year, so he will lead them next year as they search for a bowl.

While Colorado left, Arizona entered. Led by redshirt Freshman Noah Fafita, the Wildcats won their last six games, including wins over Oregon State, Washington State, and Utah, to roll to a 9-3 record and a top 15 ranking.

Oregon State was one of the most consistent teams in the Pac-12. They were ranked the entire season despite not beating a single top team in the conference.

Washington State and UCLA were two of the teams ranked early. They could not hold onto that ranking, as both lost a lot of games late. Washington State missed a bowl entirely, and UCLA finished with five losses.

Cal was the only team in the Pac-12 to make a bowl game despite never being ranked. They won their last three games to secure a bowl spot with a 6-6 record.

This was maybe the most stacked the Pac-12 has been in decades, and Coach Dillingham would agree. In his postgame presser, he said this:

“This is arguably the best the Pac-12 has been since the USC era of Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush maybe.” Dillingham said, “I don’t know if it was this deep. I think we faced a very difficult schedule when you truly look at it. That’s because of how deep the Pac-12 is.”

It’s a historic conference. It will always be that, but it was maybe the best way for it to go out: on top.

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