We know who the top dogs of the conference are. Without question, that’s the Oregon Ducks and Stanford Cardinal. Neither team has done anything to doubt that assertion. In fact, Oregon has been playing so well, it has garnered an argument as the best team in the country – yes, including Alabama.
An interesting tweet popped up today from Patrick Maloney, an actuary who runs actuarygambler.com. He uses actuarial science to calculate sports odds, among other things.
— Patrick Maloney (@actuarygambler) September 9, 2013
In this graphic, 10 Pac-12 teams have at least a 50 percent chance of becoming bowl-eiligible. To be clear, that doesn’t guarantee each team will make a bowl, only that they will get at least six wins – the minimum to make a bowl. This only helps the claim that the Pac-12 is the deepest conference in college football this year.
But what team is going to assert itself as the cream of the crop behind Stanford and Oregon? Washington has the highest bowl odds behind the two powerhouses, but Arizona and Arizona State aren’t far behind, either.
UCLA was thought to be one of the top-two teams in the South heading into the season, and it hasn’t done anything to refute that. Out of all the contenders in the South, the Bruins seem to have the most difficult conference schedule. Arizona – which is off to a hot start in non-conference play – misses Stanford, and ASU – thought to be a favorite for the South – doesn’t play Oregon.
UCLA is stuck with both of the top teams in the North, as well as Washington. UCLA misses Cal and Oregon State, two teams that look like they might find themselves at the bottom of the standings at the end of the season.
Washington faces a test on the road this weekend in Chicago against a better-than-expected Illinois team. If it can overcome the road woes it has faced under Steve Sarkisian, the Huskies may be the team to beat.
ASU’s wide receivers played well versus Sacramento State in Week 2. They were an unknown for the Sun Devils, so it’s a good sign, but it also came against an FCS school. The true test for the Sun Devils will come this weekend against Wisconsin.
Arizona still has to prove it can throw the ball against a legitimate opponent. B.J. Denker has a total of 34 pass attempts in two games for the Wildcats and hasn’t looked particularly good. Ka’Deem Carey will likely have to carry the offense. Even after dropping 58 on UNLV, it’s difficult to have confidence in a team with such a one-dimensioned attack.
Then, there are the more unlikely teams. USC has looked awful, WSU the opposite, but it’s still a year or two away. Oregon State has done nothing to instill confidence in the Beavers. Even Utah has looked good, but there’s simply not enough talent to contend.
All the teams mentioned will likely get to a bowl, or at least become bowl-eligible, like the graphic indicates. But until one proves it can overcome its weakness, the Pac-12 will be Oregon, Stanford, and everybody else.