first_imgI’m not exactly the first to say this, but whatever makes college football make sense stopped working last week.In a three-day span starting on Thursday, 11 ranked teams lost, including four of the top six squads in the nation. After upset wins from Mississippi State and Ole Miss, a state with three FBS programs has as many teams ranked in the top-four of the AP Poll (two) as the state of California has in the entire top-25.Pandemonium · The Pac-12 conference has seen its share of wild endings so far this season. Arizona defeated Cal on a last-second Hail Mary last month, while USC suffered the same fate against Arizona State on Saturday. – Tony Zhou | Daily Trojan Heisman front-runners such as Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill looked entirely ordinary, while Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson — who missed all of last season while under academic suspension — completed a miraculous, Matt Leinart-esque 4th-and-11 pass to beat Stanford.Nowhere was this week of weirdness more apparent than in the Pac-12 conference. For the second time in as many seasons, Mariota and the Ducks fell victim to the unstoppable force that is Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright, losing 31-24 at home. Oregon dropped from No. 2 to No. 12 in the AP Poll, while the Wildcats rose to No. 10, becoming the conference’s highest-ranked team for the first time since 1999.Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday set an NCAA record with 734 passing yards in a game against Cal that featured 119 combined points, only to eventually watch his team lose on a missed 19-yard field goal. Utah used a backup quarterback, a miraculous catch and four field goals to upset then-No. 8 UCLA. What was left of Stanford’s playoff hopes were dashed on the aforementioned Golson throw. And then there was a Hail Mary. We all saw it. I don’t want to talk about it.When the dust settled, Arizona was left as the conference’s only top-10 team. ASU and Utah jumped into the top-25 at No. 20 and No. 24, respectively, while the Bruins fell to the 18th slot. Rounding out the group is Stanford at No. 25. And if you think the AP poll is out of whack, take a look at the Pac-12 standings. The plucky Wildcats are the kings of the south with an undefeated record. In the north, the Golden Bears’ improbable win over Halliday and the Cougars gave Sonny Dykes’ squad — owners of a 0-9 conference record just a year ago — sole possession of first place at 2-1.But wait, it gets weirder! If not for Arizona’s Hail Mary win — I’m really starting to dislike that phrase — over Cal a few weeks ago, the Bears would be the conference’s only unbeaten team, a full two wins clear of any competition in the Pac-12 North.Alright. Take a breather. You probably need one, especially if you’re a fan of USC, UCLA, Oregon, Cal, ASU, Washington State, Utah, Arizona or, come to think of it, pretty much any college football team in the nation this year. Things will get easier, or at least more predictable.As muddled as the last month or so of Pac-12 play has made just about everything, this week’s slate should put the 2014 season back on track. I think.Four Pac-12 teams are out of action this weekend, leaving four intriguing conference matchups. The main event features Oregon visiting the Rose Bowl to take on UCLA, a contest between two teams that came into the year with high expectations both looking to avoid consecutive losses. Given the Ducks’ still-dynamic offense and the Bruins’ weakness in all non-Brett Hundley areas, Oregon should take this one pretty handily.Stanford hosts Washington State on Friday in a game that I’m sure will sound the upset horn among prognosticators, especially considering the Cardinal’s sudden inability to score points, something the Cougars’ are pretty good at. Still, I’m not sold. Even given what head coach Mike Leach has done to improve Wazzu as an all-around football team, the Cardinal dominated last year’s matchup, winning 55-17 on the road. It’s not like either of these teams have changed strategies in the past 12 months. I think the better team gets the job done here as well.Cal and Washington, two teams that boast 4-1 overall records yet are on opposite ends of the Pac-12 North standings, will square off in Berkeley on Saturday. The Bears can clearly put up points and have a legitimate special teams star in Trevor Davis, but their defense is an absolute mystery. Fortunately for Cal fans, the squad is facing a Washington squad that has been anything but impressive in its first five games under new head coach Chris Petersen. I’ll give the Bears the edge on this one.Finally, there’s Saturday’s nightcap: a duel in the desert between the surging Arizona Wildcats and the reeling USC Trojans.Whether it’s my Trojan fandom or my belief in regression to the mean, I have a good feeling about this game. USC is not as bad as it showed during parts of last week’s loss, and the Wildcats are not the world-beaters they appear to be after five games — remember, Arizona snuck past UTSA by three points and struggled to score on a now-nonexistent Cal defense for three quarters. Trojans get the win.If my predictions indeed come true, the wild, wacky and wonderfully weird Pac-12 will get a lot more normal. Cal would still have the edge up north, but with an upcoming bye week and matchups with Stanford and playoff-hopeful Oregon to come, that edge is pretty slim. In the south, the Trojans would actually take the lead — for now. If USC wins out, not a guarantee by any stretch of the imagination, it still loses a head-to-head tiebreaker with ASU.So that’s that. A weird year in the Pac-12 could very well calm down this week. Or UCLA could beat Oregon on a last-second fake field-goal Hail Mary from Hundley to Jerry Neuheisel. Who knows? Will Hanley is a junior majoring in political science and communication. He is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Sports Willustrated,” runs Thursdays. To comment on this story, visit or email Will at [email protected]last_img