Tramel: Pac-12 puts USC, Oregon in good positions
Pac-12 football finally kicks off Saturday, the last conference to get going. The Mid-American got a three-day jump on the West Coasters by staging six games on Wednesday night.
The Pac-12 is making up for being so late by going so early -- Arizona State plays at Southern Cal for Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff, which is not noon at all. It’s 11 a.m. in Oklahoma and 9 a.m. in Los Angeles, where the Trojans and Sun Devils meet in the LA Memorial Coliseum.
Not to digress, but I’m a little surprised the networks haven’t asked the other conferences to stage some strange kickoff times. Earlier mornings. Late nights. If only 14,500 fans are in Stillwater or 21,000 fans in Norman, you minimize the effects of a 10 a.m. or 9 p.m. kickoff.
OU-Kansas at 9 p.m. would draw a lot more eyeballs than OU-Kansas at 2:30 p.m., up against Georgia-Florida, OSU-Kansas State, Houston-Cincinnati and really any game that features more than one team with a pulse.
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But anyway, it’s good to have the Pac-12 along. The Pac provides some late-night football, even if California-Washington was canceled by COVID. We’ve got Washington State-Oregon State at 9:30 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports1. I hope to be home by 10 p.m. from Owen Field, ready for some midnight football.
The Pac-12 is playing a six-game schedule -- for the teams that can get in all their games -- which means five divisional games, plus one crossover game.
No surprise, the Pac-12 tried to schedule advantageously for its best teams. Here are the Pac-12 interdivision games, based upon helping the conference.
1. USC-Washington State: There were no awful teams in the Pac-12 last season; every team won at least two league games and four games overall. But WSU and Oregon State figure to be the easiest marks in the North Division, so USC was given the Cougars.
2. Utah-Oregon State: The Utes, who won the South Division last season, drew the Beavers. In a galaxy far, far away, Oregon State was supposed to open the 2020 season in Stillwater. Seems like forever ago.
3. Oregon-UCLA: This doesn’t bode well for the Bruins. The Pac-12 obviously is trying to get an Oregon-USC championship game, in a battle of unbeatens. If the league office believes UCLA can help the Ducks get there, it’s not a compliment.
4. Washington-Arizona: The Wildcats of Kevin Sumlin were just 4-8 (2-7) last season, so Washington gets a smoother road. UW and Oregon figure to be the cream of the North.
5. Stanford-Colorado: Interesting. Stanford suffered through a 4-8, 3-6 season in 2019, but the Cardinal has consistently been a contender under Davis Shaw, and playing Colorado could give Stanford a small advantage.
6. California-Arizona State: Two apparently solid teams, but who knows if this game will even be played.