In the Jewish religion, we call it “Dayenu,” and it means, “It would have been sufficient.” Every Passover, it is said 15 times, in honor of the 15 gifts God brought upon the Jewish people, as in, “If God had brought us out of Egypt, it would have been sufficient,” or, “If He had split the sea for us, it would have been sufficient.” If any one of his miracles had happened, it would’ve been sufficient.

Well, the Pac-12’s performance through 3 weeks has me saying Dayenu once more.

If only No. 7 USC had been undefeated thus far, it would’ve been sufficient.

If only No. 13 Utah had successfully rebounded from a disappointing season-opening loss to Florida in The Swamp, it would’ve been sufficient.

If only No. 15 Oregon had similarly bounced back from a 49-3 season-opening loss to then-No. 3 Georgia, it would’ve been sufficient.

If only No. 18 Washington had pulled off one of the season’s big upsets, smashing No. 11 Michigan State at home on Saturday, it would’ve been sufficient.

If only unranked Oregon State, Washington State and even UCLA had started 3-0 — the Beavers with key wins over Boise State and Fresno State, the Cougars with an impressive upset at then-No. 19 Wisconsin, the Bruins off to their first nonconference slate without a blemish since 2015 — it would’ve been sufficient.

But instead of any one of those scenarios, all of that has happened. And now the Pac-12 enters conference play with a chance to contend for its first College Football Playoff berth since 2016.

If they don’t eat themselves alive, that is.


By Week 3 of last season, the Pac-12 already found itself behind the 8-ball.

In Week 1, No. 20 Washington fell to Montana, while Washington State lost to visiting Utah State and Oregon State lost at Purdue. A week later, No. 12 Oregon won at No. 3 Ohio State, but No. 14 USC lost to visiting Stanford and No. 21 Utah lost at BYU. Then in Week 3, No. 13 UCLA lost to visiting Fresno State, No. 19 Arizona State lost at BYU and SDSU dealt Utah a second-straight loss in triple-overtime.

By Week 5, only 2 Pac-12 teams were ranked: No. 3 Oregon and No. 20 UCLA. Of course, that weekend, Oregon lost at Stanford in overtime and UCLA lost at home to Arizona State.

And that’s just last year.

How about 2019, when No. 11 Oregon lost at No. 16 Auburn in Week 1 and No. 14 Washington lost to Cal in Week 2? Or 2018, when No. 6 Washington whiffed on a spot in the top 5 after losing to Auburn in Week 1, followed by No. 22 USC losing at Texas and No. 23 losing at San Diego State?

You’d laugh, if only it kept you from crying.

And the problems for the Pac-12 have not just ended there. The league has somehow earned a reputation in the two marquee sports — football and men’s basketball — of being as cannibalistic, as well.

And both reputations well-deserved.

In 2019, No. 5 Utah lost to No. 13 Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, the same day No. 4 Georgia lost to No. 2 LSU in the SEC title game. Instead of the Utes heading to the CFP, No. 6 Oklahoma got the 4th seed. In 2018, No. 17 Washington lost at No. 7 Oregon and then at unranked Cal 2 weeks later. Then the Huskies upset No. 7 Washington State in Pullman in the regular-season finale, knocking the Cougars out of the Pac-12 title game and keeping the conference from an outside chance at the CFP. The year before, the then-No. 5 Huskies lost at Arizona State in Week 7, climbed back up to No. 9 three weeks later, only to lose at Stanford. Back in 2015, the No. 7 Cardinal were clipped by the unranked Ducks on Nov. 14.

Every year, the same story.

The Pac-12 out of the Playoff. Another December to forget. Totally insufficient.


The last time the Pac-12 boasted 3 wins over ranked nonconference teams was in 2010, when Arizona beat No. 9 Iowa in Week 3, Stanford beat No. 16 Stanford and UCLA beat No. 7 Texas in Week 4.

How did that season finish?

With Oregon in the championship game — losing to Auburn, 22-19, on a field goal as time expired — and Stanford hot on their tails. Both teams finished 12-1 that year, with the Ducks ranked 3rd and the Cardinal, whose lone loss was to Oregon, ranked 4th.

So, there was a time when the Pac-12 put itself in prime position and nearly capitalized on it without cannibalizing itself.

Can they do it again this year? Maybe even win it all for the first time since 2004?

For the conference’s Big 4, the job is clear: Take care of business.

How that plays out is anyone’s guess. USC and Washington have the easiest paths, seeing as they don’t play each other, while the Trojans miss Oregon and Washington misses Utah. If USC can beat Utah on Oct. 15, it might just be smooth sailings for the Trojans until the conference title game. Likewise for the Huskies, a brutal road game at Autzen Stadium against the Ducks on Nov. 12 looms large.

Utah and Oregon, on the other hand, must both contend with each other and another of the conference’s Big 4. The Utes, picked almost universally to win the conference heading into the season, have the toughest trek, with the Trojans and Ducks in the offing.

As it stands, the Huskies — who I picked to finish in the bottom third of the conference — stand with just as good a shot as any to emerge from the gauntlet. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been a revelation, and head coach Kalen DeBoer and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb look like terrific hires. But even if Washington doesn’t live up to its rewritten expectations, the Huskies certainly helped raise the Pac-12’s early season profile, as have the Beavers and Cougars.

And because of the Huskies and more, the Pac-12 has a real chance to make its first CFP since 2016.

That would certainly be sufficient.