Oh, what could’ve been.

All eyes are on the Pac-12 this week, with the two biggest games in all of college football, yet there is a stinging feeling of disappointment as both marquee matchups will likely only have an impact on the conference title game and not the CFP chase.

Oregon blew its shot with a surprise loss to Washington, and now they’ve got an even tougher opponent, No. 10 Utah, coming into Autzen Stadium. UCLA mucked it up with an even more shocking loss to Arizona, and now even a visit from No. 7 USC won’t do much for their postseason aspirations.

Here’s my look at those exciting showdowns and other final thoughts heading into Week 12 of the Pac-12 slate.


Washington State at Arizona, 11 a.m., Pac-12 Network

Washington State is heavily favored in ESPN’s Matchup Predictor — 62.7 percent to 37.3 percent — but let’s see what Jayden de Laura has to say about that.

The former Cougars quarterback, who won Pac-12 freshman of the year honors last season at the helm of the Wazzu offense, has thrived this year with Jedd Fisch and the Wildcats. Arizona is coming off its biggest win of the season, a 34-28 win at UCLA that stunned the Psc-12 universe.

But the Cougars have been plenty competitive of late, winning two straight after dropping 3 in a row to the likes of No. 6 USC, Oregon State — which is now ranked — and No. 14 Utah. Three respectable losses, if there are any.

Similarly, Arizona’s win over the Bruins came after four straight losses — to No. 12 Oregon, Washington, No. 10 USC and No. 14 Utah. It’s no shock they dropped those games.

The Cougars have big things in mind with an 8-win season still on the table, but Arizona is surprisingly still in contention for a bowl bid, so the Cats have plenty to play for as well. This one will come down to de Laura against his former team, and you know both teams will be plenty motivated.

Prediction: Wildcats stay in the hunt for a bowl bid in rebound season.

No. 23 Oregon State at Arizona State, 11:15 a.m., ESPN2

After taking a big step forward with 2 wins in 3 weeks over No. 21 Washington and Colorado, the Sun Devils have dropped two straight, to UCLA and to Washington State.

ASU interim head coach Shaun Aguano replaced an injured Trenton Bourguet with Emory Jones and he sparked Sparky to an 18-0 second-half against the Cougars last Saturday. Unfortunately Wazzu had built a 28-0 lead at the half, rendering the Sun Devils’ impressive comeback for naught.

The Beavers had no trouble in their matchup with the Cougars, owning WSU the whole game in a 24-10 win. Oregon State is clearly the better team, even behind backup quarterback Ben Gulbranson, who has gone 4-1 in his last 5 starts in relief of Chance Nolan.

But history is not on Oregon State’s side. The Beavers have won just once in Tempe since 1969 (2009).

Prediction: Beavers improve to 8 wins with rout of Sun Devils.

Stanford at Cal, 2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network

The Big Game doesn’t feel quite so big with both teams entering the game with anemic offenses and

Stanford’s offense was absolutely attrocious in a 42-7 loss to Utah last weekend, gaining just 177 total yards, including 22 net rushing yards, while finishing with just 9 1st downs and 3-of-14 on 3rd-down conversions.

Somehow the Bears were worse against Oregon State last weekend, totaling just 156 yards — including 9 net rushing yards — with just 10 1st downs. As a result of that putrid performance, Cal head coach Justin Wilcox fired two offensive coaches (offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and offensive line coach Angus McClure).

Forty years after one of the most memorable games in college football history, these two teams are at a low.

Prediction: Cal takes care of cratering Cardinal offense.

No. 7 USC at No. 16 UCLA, 5 p.m., Fox

Despite the Bruins’ stunning loss to Arizona last week, this is still one of the best games — if not the best game — on the college football schedule this weekend.

Dorian Thompson Robinson vs. Caleb Williams. Chip Kelly vs. Lincoln Riley. Tuli Tuipulotu vs. Laiatu Latu.

This game could reach in the triple-digits as two high-powered offenses square off against two inconsistent defenses. Health will play a big factor, as the Trojans are missing some major contributors while UCLA has remained relatively unscathed.

One thing that has been interesting is the pregame build-up; the Bruins have been emotional and fired-up in their interviews while the Trojans have been almost weirdly unenthusiastic. They may say its any old game, but it most certainly is not. Will UCLA be too fired up to contain its emotions? Will USC come out flat? The first quarter will be crucial in this one.

Prediction: Bruins make it 2 in a row over USC for first time since winning 3 straight 2012-14.

Colorado at No. 17 Washington, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network

After putting up a fight against Arizona State three weeks ago, the Buffaloes have showed their age and talent level the last two weeks in losses to Oregon and USC. Colorado was out-scored 104-27 in the two losses, and they’ve now given up 40-plus points in 8 of the last 9 games.

Winners of 4 straight, including a huge upset over Oregon last Saturday, it would be an absolute shock if Washington somehow found a way to lose against one of the worst teams in all of college football.

The Huskies will be motivated to finish out the regular season on a 6-game winning streak and with 10 wins for the 1st time since 2018. If that were to happen, it would be the 1st time in program history that a 1st-year head coach finished with double-digit wins.

Prediction: Huskies close in on double-digit wins in huge turnaround year.

No. 10 Utah at No. 12 Oregon, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

If Bo Nix was completely healthy, I’d feel pretty darn confident in the Ducks, even if they are coming off a surprising home loss to Washington. Lest we forget, Oregon had won 8 straight, including wins over then-No. 12 BYU and then-No. 9 UCLA. The Ducks have arguably the best offensive line in the country, even if they are dinged up front.

Nix’s health really will tell the tale in this one.

“We’re being really conscientious of him and his reps–we wanna do a good job taking care of him, but he’s preparing himself as if he can go,” Lanning said during his weekly radio show. “But we also got some other guys ready to go if needed. Bo’s been really consistent all year in his approach and how he works, but it certainly was comforting as a coach to be able to see him get back out there on the field there on Saturday and put down a little reassurance.”

Utah hasn’t exactly gotten through this season unscathed, either, but the Utes seem to be peaking at the right time. Much will hinge on the health and availability of tight end Dalton Kincaid, who torched USC earlier this year.

Prediction: Utes take advantage of a limping Bo Nix to secure conference title-game berth.