Pac-12’s crazy final football weekend: Oregon aiming for CFP spot against Oregon State

Nov 23, 2023, 9:05 PM

Bo Nix of Oregon...

Bo Nix #10 of the Oregon Ducks prepares to hand off the ball in the second half against the Washington State Cougars at Autzen Stadium on October 21, 2023 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Lydia Ely/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lydia Ely/Getty Images)

It’s the final week of Pac-12 football regular season play, and it could get crazy. The Arizona Wildcats have a slim shot at still making the Pac-12 Championship Game, Oregon and Washington hope to make the College Football Playoff and the Arizona State Sun Devils will aim to get coach Kenny Dillingham a win to head into his first full offseason on the job.

Arizona fans will be watching Oregon vs. Oregon State

Game of the Week: No. 15 Oregon State at No. 9 Oregon, Friday.

The final Pac-12 version of the Civil War will play a role in which team plays No. 4 Washington in the Pac-12 championship game. Win and the Ducks (10-1, 7-1, No. 6 CFP) are in. Lose and No. 16 Arizona beats Arizona State, the Wildcats head to Las Vegas. Oregon is still in position to make the College Football Playoff despite losing to Washington earlier in the season, at No. 6 in the latest rankings.

The Ducks have not lost to Oregon State (8-3, 5-3, No. 16 CFP) at Autzen Stadium, but the Beavers won 38-34 at home last year to keep Oregon out of the Pac-12 title game. Oregon is headed to the Big Ten and isn’t playing Oregon State next season, leaving the rivalry up in the air.

Best matchup

Washington State at No. 4 Washington, Saturday. The Cougars’ season has faded after a strong start, but they’d like nothing better than to spoil the Huskies’ College Football Playoff bid. Washington (11-0, 8-0) moved up to No. 4 in the latest CFP rankings, so the Huskies are likely in if they beat the Cougars and win the Pac-12 championship game.

Washington has been led by quarterback Michael Penix Jr., among the frontrunners to win the Heisman Trophy with 3,695 yards and 30 TDs passing. Washington State has a pretty good quarterback of its own in Cameron Ward, who’s thrown for 3,415 yards and 22 TDs. Washington is headed to the Big Ten next season, but the teams have agreed to continue the Apple Cup through at least 2028.

Long shot

No. 16 Arizona at Arizona State, Saturday. The Wildcats (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) are on one of their best rolls in years, entering the rivalry game on their first five-game Pac-12 winning streak since 1998. Arizona has wins over four ranked opponents in a season for the first time since 1989. Its seven-game turnaround from a one-win season matches the school record for a two-year improvement.

Arizona State’s first season under coach Kenny Dillingham has been riddled with injuries, leading to a six-game losing streak. Quarterback Jaden Rashada has been practicing and could play for the first time since being injured in the second game of the season for the Sun Devils (3-8, 2-6). Lopsided on paper, it’s a rivalry game where anything can happen — especially in this one.

Player to watch

Oregon QB Bo Nix. Penix isn’t the only Heisman candidate in the Pac-12. Nix has been superb in his second season since transferring from Auburn, throwing for 3,539 yards and 35 TDs. He was named Pac-12 offensive player of the week after throwing for 404 yards and six touchdowns in a blowout over Arizona State.

Inside the numbers

Cal’s Jayden Ott leads the Pac-12 with 1,182 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing. … Stanford’s Elic Ayomanor needs 48 yards receiving against Notre Dame to become the first Cardinal receiver with 1,000 yards in a season since J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in 2018. … Oregon leads the nation with five sacks allowed this season. … Washington coach Kalen DeBoer is 30-1 in games played in November. … USC closed the regular season with three straight losses and doesn’t play again until a to-be-determined bowl game. … UCLA leads the nation against the run, allowing 64.6 yards per game.

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