It’s certainly not going to make every college football fan happy, but the CFP selection committee’s decision to rank Alabama and Oregon -- both with a loss on their résumés -- ahead of Florida State shows it's willing to consider context that was often lacking in the polls used to compute the BCS.

Based solely on record, Florida State is the obvious No. 1 team in the nation by virtue of being the last undefeated Power 5 conference team. But the committee is considering the quality of wins, the toughness of schedule, the circumstances involved in each game and a host of other metrics when parsing the cases for each team. That’s progress.

[+] EnlargeJ.T. Barrett
Allen Kee/ESPN ImagesJ.T. Barrett's transformation has sparked Ohio State's late-season run.
The committee is willing to overlook Oregon’s home loss to Arizona in a game it was favored to win by three touchdowns in part because the Ducks have surrounded that loss with quality wins over Michigan State, Stanford, UCLA and Utah, but also because of context. A host of injuries on the offensive line hurt Oregon, but the Ducks have gotten healthier, and in the five games since that loss, they've averaged 48.4 points and surrendered just eight sacks.

Essentially the committee’s ranking boils down to a simple premise that should be applauded in this new age of college football: Oregon is a better team today than it was six weeks ago, and the best teams should be the ones playing for a championship.

Where the committee’s critics have a valid point, however, is whether that same context is applied evenly.

Florida State fans wonder why Oregon gets a pass for its short-handed loss when the Seminoles don’t appear to earn many bonus points for beating Clemson without Jameis Winston or thwarting Louisville’s staunch defense without starting center Austin Barron.

It’s a reasonable point, but if the Seminoles keep winning, they’ll be in the playoff anyway. For the folks in Columbus, Ohio, however, the future isn't nearly so certain.

The cases for both Oregon and Ohio State are similar. Both teams have Heisman candidates at quarterback. Both have prolific offenses. Both are en route to a conference title. The signature win for both teams came against Michigan State. And both have a glaring loss on their record that came, in large part, because of injuries.

The difference is that Ohio State’s stumble at home to Virginia Tech in Week 2 looms large, and is the biggest reason the Buckeyes are No. 6 in the poll.

Let’s first look at those losses. Is Arizona a better loss than Virginia Tech?

Arizona is 8-2 and ranked 15th in the committee’s latest poll. Virginia Tech is 5-5 and narrowly kept its bowl chances alive with a win over Duke last week.

Look a little deeper, though, and the differences aren't nearly so stark. Aside from the win over Oregon, Arizona hasn't beaten a Power 5 team with a winning record. Its two remaining games (at Utah and vs. Arizona State) will tell us more about the Wildcats’ true worth, but they needed a late turnover from Texas-San Antonio to win on Sept. 4, escaped Nevada by just a touchdown a week later, and toppled Cal a week after that thanks to a last-second Hail Mary. Virginia Tech has played essentially as well as Arizona, but while the Wildcats have four one-score wins, the Hokies have four one-score losses.

Again, context means a lot, and in this case, the committee doesn’t seem to be applying it evenly.

But let’s look, too, at how Ohio State lost that game. J.T. Barrett was making just his second start, stepping in for injured star Braxton Miller. The offensive line was in shambles, too, and it surrendered seven sacks. Ohio State still fought back and had a chance to win, but two late turnovers swung the game.

If anything, injuries had a bigger impact on the Buckeyes’ loss than Oregon’s.

And since that loss to Virginia Tech, Ohio State has been nearly flawless. The Buckeyes are 8-0 and have won by an average of 28 points -- the top scoring margin for any Power 5 team during that span. Its opponents’ winning percentage during that time is better than that of Oregon, Florida State, Mississippi State and TCU -- teams all ranked ahead of Ohio State. It has toppled two ranked teams in Michigan State and Minnesota. It has scored 49 points or more six times.

If the goal is to put the best teams into the playoff, Ohio State’s case is sound. In fact, there may not be a team in the country playing better football right now than the Buckeyes. Barrett has gone from a deer in headlights to a Heisman candidate. The offensive line has allowed just 10 sacks in the last eight games. The defense is light-years ahead of Oregon by virtually every metric.

But if the playoffs started tomorrow, Ohio State wouldn’t even be the first team left out, and the lackluster schedule in the Big Ten -- something completely out of the Buckeyes’ control -- won't offer many opportunities to change that perception.

Instead, it will be up to the committee to continue to re-evaluate things, to keep adding context -- because if it’s good enough for Oregon, then a few other teams surely deserve a second look, too.

Pac-12 playoff tracker: Nov. 19

November, 19, 2014
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Although the Pac-12 versus SEC gap appears to be closing in terms of overall depth, quality at the top still heavily favors the SEC. Oregon is firmly in the playoff picture, while three others are still clinging to hope.

Here's where they stand:

Oregon

Record: 9-1 (6-1)
Rank: 2
Next big obstacle: Nov. 29 at Oregon State

Reason for optimism: If the Ducks get by Colorado, Oregon State and the Pac-12 South champion, they’re a lock to be in the playoff field. That’s really all any team can hope for -- a chance. In their past two games, the Ducks have put up 45 and 51 points against Stanford and Utah, respectively, arguably the top two defenses in the Pac-12. It also doesn’t hurt that the Ducks have Marcus Mariota, the best player in the country.

Cause for concern: Oregon State’s win against Arizona State last week shows the Beavers aren’t quite the pushover they appeared to be. The Ducks will still be heavy favorites in the Civil War, but that game carries more intrigue with the Beavers showing signs of life.

Whom they'll be rooting for this week: Themselves (because besides an Alabama loss, nothing else really matters).

UCLA

Record: 8-2 (5-2)
Rank: 9
Next big obstacle: Nov. 22 vs. USC

Reason for optimism: The Bruins needed some help to take control of the Pac-12 South, and Oregon State delivered. UCLA now controls its destiny in the division and moved up to No. 9 in the rankings, which are both significant improvements over last week. If UCLA wins out, it’ll still need help to get into the playoff, but the chances are improving.

Cause for concern: There’s a real possibility that even if UCLA wins out, Florida State, Ohio State, the Big 12 champion and two SEC schools would wind up ahead of the Bruins in the rankings. Plus, just getting to that points figures to be very difficult with USC, Stanford and potentially Oregon remaining.

Whom they'll be rooting for this week: Oklahoma State.

Arizona State

Record: 8-2 (5-2)
Rank: 13
Next big obstacle: Nov. 22 vs. Washington State

Reason for optimism: The Pac-12 is tied with the SEC for the most teams in the College Football Playoff rankings, which indicates the Pac-12 champion would be strongly considered for a playoff berth. If UCLA loses to either USC or Stanford -- which is certainly within reason -- Arizona State would be back in control of its own destiny in the division.

Cause for concern: Losing to an Oregon State team that had dropped 10 of its past 11 Pac-12 games is pretty much a deal-breaker. The committee could have forgiven the Sun Devils a 35-point loss to UCLA if that were the only loss, but now there will be too many teams ahead with better resumes.

Whom they'll be rooting for this week: USC.

Arizona

Record: 8-2 (5-2)
Rank: 15
Next big obstacle: Nov. 22 at No. 23 Utah

Reason for optimism: See: Arizona State. If Oregon is able to jump to No. 1 before the Pac-12 title game, and the Wildcats somehow make it there and win, it’d be a strong statement to end the regular season. Close losses to USC and UCLA shouldn’t hurt too badly, either.

Cause for concern: The only way Arizona wins the South is if it wins out, UCLA beats USC and Stanford beats UCLA. Certainly possible, but unlikely. That’s just to get to the championship game. Then the Wildcats would need to beat Oregon again and have several other dominoes across the country fall their way.

Whom they'll be rooting for this week: UCLA.

Pac-12 morning links

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The sea was angry that day, my friends -- like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

Leading off

It's depth chart Wednesday and with all 12 teams in action, that means you get 11 depth charts to peruse with UCLA the usual odd team out. Josh Shaw’s return

One of college football’s weirdest stories of the season -- Decade? Ever? -- added a new chapter Tuesday when USC announced it had reinstated defensive back Josh Shaw. Shaw, as nearly everyone with a pulse knows, has been suspended since late August after concocting an imaginary rescue of his drowning nephew to hide the fact that he jumped from the third floor following an argument with his girlfriend.

There are several levels of stupidity to the whole ordeal, but the decision to reinstate Shaw was justified. It was time. By most accounts, Shaw is a good kid who made a couple bad choices and they spiraled out of control. The embarrassment he has dealt with -- and will continue to deal with for years, no doubt -- has served as more than enough punishment. It’s still be to determined if he can make an impact on the field after missing so much time, but, for his sake, hopefully he can. It’ll be an important step in putting this mess behind him.

News/notes/team reports
Just for fun

Cal running back Jeff Coprich was surprised at the conclusion of practice Thursday with word that he had been named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. A video featuring Coprich’s community service played on the stadium video board and he was given a trophy.



Utah punter Tom Hackett may be the best punter in the country and on Monday he explained how punting is basically “kicking bacon down a field for people’s entertainment.”



Of course that resulted in fun with Photoshop

Josh Shaw reinstated by USC

November, 19, 2014
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USC cornerback Josh Shaw has been reinstated to the team, the school announced Tuesday.

Shaw had been suspended since late August, when he fabricated a story to explain how he suffered two high ankle sprains as a result of jumping from the balcony of his third-story apartment following an argument with his girlfriend. He initially -- and repeatedly -- told USC officials the injury occurred as a result of a leap from a balcony in an effort to save his drowning nephew. That story was shared on USC's website and quickly became a national story before Shaw admitted he had made it up.

His reinstatement was announced on the USC website.

"For several months, local authorities have been investigating the August 23 incident involving Josh Shaw. They have now concluded that investigation and determined that no action will be taken against him," USC athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. "USC also conducted its own internal investigation of Josh, evaluating both athletic department code of conduct and potential NCAA compliance issues.

"Based on these investigations and their conclusions, and the 10-game suspension Josh has served for code of conduct violations, we have made the decision to reinstate him. The role Josh will have in any remaining games is now in the hands of Coach [Steve] Sarkisian."

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Shaw said he and girlfriend Angela Chilton argued the night of the incident, and a neighbor called the police. He jumped from the apartment's balcony when police arrived but maintains the argument did not turn physical.

"We were not on good terms when she left, I thought she had somebody call authorities," Shaw told the Times. "I was thinking the worst. If she did say anything, I'm a black man with dreadlocks, and with everything going on in the country at the time, all that stuff in St. Louis [Ferguson, Missouri] ... in my mind, I'm going to leap from the balcony so authorities did not see me."

He told the Times that he had hoped USC officials would accept the story and everyone would move on, and that he did not expect the story to gain the traction it did.

Sarkisian had maintained throughout the season that there was a chance Shaw could rejoin the team.

"I've welcomed Josh Shaw back to the team," Sarkisian said in a statement Tuesday. "I'm now in the process of evaluating how Josh can contribute to the team's success."

Kevon Seymour and Adoree' Jackson were listed as the Trojans' starting cornerbacks on this week's depth chart.

Shaw, a fifth-year senior, was voted a team captain before the season. However, Sarkisian told reporters after Tuesday's practice that he is removing Shaw as a captain.

He has recorded six interceptions for the Trojans since transferring from Florida in January 2012 and was expected to be a major part of the team's defense after starting all 14 games in 2013.

USC (7-3, 6-2 Pac-12), No. 19 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, plays at No. 9 UCLA on Saturday. The Trojans are still in contention to win the Pac-12 South.

Beware the beauty contest for No. 4 

November, 18, 2014
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Say what you will about the College Football Playoff selection committee, but they’ve set the stage for drama over the season’s final three weekends -- whether they did so intentionally or not.

[+] EnlargeAlabama
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesAlabama's defense swarmed Mississippi State on Saturday and propelled the Tide to the No. 1 ranking.
Florida State is the lone undefeated team from the Power 5 conferences, but if the season ended today, the committee would be shipping FSU to Pasadena for a semifinal game against Oregon. And unless the Seminoles start winning more impressively, that’s probably not going to change unless Alabama or Oregon were to lose again.

Mississippi State is the top-seven team that’s least likely to be a conference champion, so the Bulldogs might’ve been in a desperate position if they had fallen out of the top four this week. But they did not. Will MSU eventually get jumped by a conference champion? Or will a road win in the Egg Bowl be enough to help the Bulldogs hold their ground?

Things are lining up for a high-profile Big Ten title game

Pac-12 bowl projections: Week 12

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A week ago, the Pac-12 was positioned well for a conference championship game that would have amounted to a quarterfinal in the College Football Playoff. Then Oregon State decided to play its best game of the year, a 35-27 upset of then-No. 6 Arizona State, and ruin that scenario.

It would have been fun, but now Oregon looks like the conference's only realistic hope of earning one of the four playoff spots.

However, the Beavers' win also created a more likely scenario, in which 10 Pac-12 teams will be bowl eligible. There are currently six bowl-eligible teams, but that number will grow to eight after this weekend, with Stanford playing Cal and Washington playing Oregon State. All four need just one more win to hit the threshold.

Here are the teams that still have work to do to go bowling:

California (needs one win): vs. Stanford, vs. BYU
Stanford (needs one win):
at Cal, at UCLA
Oregon State (needs one win): at Washington, vs. Oregon
Washington (needs one win)*: vs. Oregon State, at Washington State

And here's our weekly attempt to map out where the Pac-12 teams will end up come bowl season:

College Football Playoff: Oregon
VIZIO Fiesta Bowl: UCLA
Valero Alamo Bowl: Arizona State
National University Holiday Bowl: USC
Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona
Hyundai Sun Bowl: Utah
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: Stanford
Cactus Bowl: Washington
Hawaii Bowl**: California

*Washington needs to win seven games to become bowl eligible because it had four nonconference games, which was allowed because of its trip to Hawaii.
**at large

Roll Tide -- all the way to No. 1.

Following its win over Mississippi State -- currently the best win in the country -- Alabama ascended to No. 1 in the latest ranking by the College Football Playoff’s 12-member selection committee.

The Crimson Tide jumped No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Florida State and No. 4 Mississippi State, which remained one of the top four teams in the country in spite of its loss. For the second time this season, the committee has placed more than one team from the SEC West in its top four.

Here’s what the bracket would look like today:

NCF PlayoffESPN


Beyond the top four, there were some perplexing moves made by the committee. Among the more eyebrow-raising decisions:

  • Undefeated Marshall is still unranked after its biggest win of the season, yet No. 25 Minnesota, which just lost at home, is still No. 25.
  • Louisville, USC, Missouri and Oklahoma -- all unranked a week ago -- are ranked again.
  • USC climbed to No. 19 on the back of a home win over 5-5 California.
  • Clemson, in spite of a convincing 28-6 loss to Georgia Tech in which it was held to 190 total yards and had three turnovers, only dropped three spots.
  • Utah jumped from No. 23 to No. 17 after a double-overtime win against five-loss Stanford, and still has a home loss to Washington State on its resume.

One of the biggest movers was LSU, which dropped from No. 17 out of the ranking after it was shut out at Arkansas. Arizona State dropped seven spots after an embarrassing loss to Oregon State. Georgia moved up five spots after thumping Auburn 34-7, and Wisconsin jumped from No. 20 to No. 16 after beating Nebraska. That bodes well for Ohio State’s playoff hopes, should the Buckeyes and Badgers meet in the Big Ten title game.

As for the other major bowls, here’s a projection based on the current rankings:

The Orange Bowl lost the ACC champion (FSU) so it gets the next highest-ranked ACC team, No. 18 Georgia Tech. Then the Orange selects the next highest-ranked non-conference champion team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame. By contract, displaced conference champs from the SEC and Big Ten don't go to the Orange Bowl. That would pit the Yellow Jackets against No. 8 Ole Miss.

Here’s what New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day could look like, based on today’s ranking:

Dec. 31

12:30 p.m. ET, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 10 Georgia vs. Marshall

4 p.m. ET, VIZIO Fiesta Bowl: No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 9 UCLA

8 p.m. ET, Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 18 Georgia Tech vs. No. 8 Ole Miss

Jan. 1

12:30 p.m. ET, Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 5 TCU vs. No. 6 Ohio State

5 p.m. ET, Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State

8:30 p.m. ET, Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Mississippi State

Marshall is still projected in a New Year’s Six bowl even though it didn’t crack the selection committee’s top 25. If a Group of 5 conference champion does not play its way into the ranking by Dec. 7, the committee will evaluate all five conference champions before selecting one for a New Year’s Six bowl.
video
While the Oregon State win over No. 6 Arizona State might have come as a bit of a surprise, it wasn't a huge surprise to see senior linebacker Michael Doctor come away with this week's play of the week win. He tallied nearly half of the total vote count for his pick six that sealed the win for the Beavers and snapped a four-game losing streak.

It was great to see that kind of a play from Doctor, who missed nearly all of last season with an injury. But to come back in his final year and make such a pivotal play in a huge upset must've been a really special moment for Doctor.

Reader reaction:

Pac-12 by the numbers: Week 13

November, 18, 2014
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Here's another look at random stats pertaining to the Pac-12:

Washington State at Arizona State
  • Arizona State running back D.J. Foster has been held to zero or negative rushing yards 29.0 percent of the time in Pac-12 games, the highest percentage among running backs.
  • Foster also ranks No. 2 in the Pac-12 averaging 139.9 yards from a scrimmage a game.
  • Among the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, WSU receiver Vince Mayle has the longest reception this year (90 yards).
  • The Cougars have thrown for at least 400 yards in a loss four times this season, which is the second-most times that has happened in a season for a team dating back at least 10 years.
  • Arizona State ranks 21st in the country with 47 penalties. It is the only Pac-12 school that ranks in the top-60 and one of just four that ranks in the top-104.
Arizona at Utah
  • Utah's 47 sacks are the most for an FBS team over the first 10 games of a season since at least 2004.
  • Utah running back Devontae Booker leads the Pac-12 with 133.4 rushing yards per game in conference games. Booker also has the most carries for zero or negative yards (36).
  • Utah DE Nate Orchard is on pace for 21.5 sacks this season (including a bowl game), which would fall a few shy of Terrell Suggs' NCAA record of 24 in 2002. The NCAA began keeping sacks as an official stat in 2000.
  • Dating back to 2004, only Arizona State's Andrew Walter (30) and Oregon Marcus Mariota (28) had more touchdown passes than Anu Solomon over their first 10 career games.
  • Solomon is one of just two quarterbacks in the country (with at least 440 pass attempts) over the past 10 years not to fumble as a result of a sack.
Stanford at Cal
  • Cal has the most fourth-down conversions (17) and best fourth-down conversion percentage in the Pac-12 (70.8).
  • In Pac-12 play, Stanford is averaging 5.8 yards per play, which ranks fifth in the conference.
  • Cal running back Daniel Lasco leads the Pac-12 with 10 rushing touchdowns in conference games.
  • Stanford running back Kelsey Young has been held to zero or negative rushing yards just once on 28 carries in Pac-12 play, the lowest percentage (3.6) among players with at least 20 carries.
  • Cal quarterback Jared Goff's 6,906 yards passing over his first 22 career games is the most by a Power 5 quarterback since at least 2004.
Colorado at Oregon
  • Oregon is scoring 3.54 points per drive, the most in the country.
  • Oregon fails to pick up a first down on just 19.4 percent of its drives, the fourth-best percentage in the country.
  • Colorado has run the most plays (871) in the country, which is 307 more than Connecticut, which has run the fewest.
  • Colorado receiver Nelson Spruce is one of nine players with at least 99 receptions over his team's first 10 games since 2004.
  • The Ducks average more yards per play (7.28) than any other Power 5 team.
USC at UCLA
  • USC failed to score a touchdown on a goal-to-go situation for the first time this season last week against Cal. Its goal-to-go touchdown percentage of 93.8 percent (15 for 16) ranks third-best nationally.
  • Among USC quarterbacks dating back to 2004, only Matt Barkley in 2012 (33) had more touchdown passes through 10 games than Cody Kessler's 29.
  • Over the past three years, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has thrown for the fifth-most yards in the country (9,363), but the players ahead of him all have at least 46 more passing attempts.
  • If USC receiver Nelson Agholor has 200 yards receiving against UCLA, he will become the first player with three consecutive 200-yard receiving games in the country since at least 2004. Only six others have had back-to-back 200-yard receiving games in that span.
  • Among Pac-12 players with at least 75 carries, UCLA running back Paul Perkins ranks second in yards per carry (6.2).
Oregon State at Washington
  • Oregon State's 94 penalties are the most in the country.
  • Washington OLB Hau'oli Kikaha (33.5) needs 2.5 sacks to pass Central Florida's Bruce Miller for the most sacks since 2004.
  • Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion needs 130 yards passing to move up to the top-10 all-time in FBS.
  • Oregon State running back Storm Woods has averaged 7.4 yards per rush (51 carries, 379 yards) in conference play, the most in among players with at least 20 carries.
  • Washington leads the Pac-12 in both forced fumbles (13) and fumble recoveries (14).
Past weeks
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
USC and UCLA renew their storied football rivalry with Pac-12 championship hopes on the line at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

At this time, there's no new information of pregame campus vandalism, but there are pictures of a special public spectacle. The huge game assumed a prominent place in Southern California landscape Monday night, as both the Trojans and Bruins were well represented at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), one of the world's most iconic travel hubs. Airport officials alternated lighting on the imposing LAX gateway pylons between USC red/gold and UCLA blue/gold in honor of Saturday's game.

Over 60 million people fly into and out of LAX annually so thousands of travelers saw the rivalry colors during their Monday evening forays into and out of the huge airport. The lighting made for a vibrant photo slideshow courtesy Steve McCrank of the Los Angeles News Group. Los Angeles Daily News writer Jack Wang then tweeted two of McCrank's pictures.

 

Week 12 Pac-12 QB Power Rankings

November, 18, 2014
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The Pac-12 is loaded with talent at quarterback this season to the point where it seems like the conference is a hoarder and really good QBs are in abundance. But this is the way we like it. And the other conferences can keep hoarding whatever they like as long as the signal-callers stay west.

Every week we'll provide you with a power ranking of the conference's top quarterbacks, based mostly on that QB's most recent game.

Drumroll please ...

For Week 11's rankings, click here.
There is no more fertile recruiting ground for Pac-12 programs than Southern California, and when it comes to that area’s recruits, there is no more important game than UCLA-USC. While this game doesn’t always predict the program that will end up with the better recruiting class, it certainly gives the victor more recruiting momentum than any other game on the schedule. Saturday marks an important date for both programs, as the game will take place in front of some of the Southland’s top recruits, as well as more than a handful of out-of-state visitors.

A UCLA win would give the Bruins three in a row in the series and would give the coaches some significant recruiting ammunition to take into the final months of the recruiting calendar. A USC win would give coach Steve Sarkisian an opportunity to boast that the Trojans ceased all of the Bruins’ forward momentum in just his first year on the job and with a depleted roster.

It’s always entertaining when these programs get together on the field, and fun to take a look behind the scenes at a few factors that led to the makeup of these rosters and factors that will help set up future clashes. Here, we look at present and past recruiting battles that will shape or have shaped both rosters.

Biggest ongoing recruiting battles


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There is no more fertile recruiting ground for Pac-12 programs than Southern California, and when it comes to that area’s recruits, there is no more important game than UCLA-USC. While this game doesn’t always predict the program that will end up with the better recruiting class, it certainly gives the victor more recruiting momentum than any other game on the schedule. Saturday marks an important date for both programs, as the game will take place in front of some of the Southland’s top recruits, as well as more than a handful of out-of-state visitors.

A UCLA win would give the Bruins three straight in the series and give the coaches some significant ammunition to discuss going into the final months of the recruiting calendar. A USC win, on the other hand, would give head coach Steve Sarkisian an opportunity to boast that the Trojans ceased all the Bruins’ forward momentum in his first year on the job despite a depleted roster.

It’s always entertaining when these two programs get together on the field, and fun to take a look behind the scenes at a few factors that led to the makeup of these rosters, and factors that will help set up future clashes between the Los Angeles programs. Here we take a look at what kind of impact the 2014 class is already making, and what 2015 recruits could be in line to do the same next year.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

November, 18, 2014
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With only three Pac-12 games on Saturday, it looked as if it could be a light recruiting weekend in the conference. And while there wasn't much in the way of visitors, Stanford hosted two intriguing unofficial visitors and Sunday brought some significant news in the way of a commitment and a new name for Pac-12 recruiting fans to put on their boards.


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Conference races gaining clarity

November, 18, 2014
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Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesMelvin Gordon and the Wisconsin Badgers have won five straight games to take the Big Ten West lead.

After another week of games with conference championship implications, the conference races are gaining clarity.

The Wisconsin Badgers took hold of the Big Ten West, and the Alabama Crimson Tide control the SEC West after significant divisional wins Saturday.

Using projections by ESPN’s Football Power Index, let’s break down how each of the Power 5 conferences are projected to finish, starting with the most likely conference winners.

ACC
FPI’s projected winner:
Florida State Seminoles (75 percent), Duke Blue Devils (15 percent), Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10 percent)

After Miami’s loss to Florida State, there are three remaining potential conference champions in the ACC. Florida State has already clinched the ACC Atlantic, and FPI projects the Seminoles have a 75 percent chance to beat the ACC Coastal winner in the championship game.

Despite its loss Saturday, Duke remains the most likely ACC Coastal champion (69 percent) because of its schedule and the head-to-head win over Georgia Tech on Oct. 11, but FPI projects Georgia Tech, which is ranked 11 spots ahead of Duke in the FPI rankings, would give the Seminoles a tougher test.

Potential clinching scenarios this week: Georgia Tech clinches with a Duke loss.

Big 12
FPI’s projected winner:
Baylor Bears (74 percent), TCU Horned Frogs (22 percent), Kansas State Wildcats (4 percent)

FPI projects Baylor has a 68 percent chance to win out, best among the one-loss Power 5 teams. If the Bears win out (including a win over Kansas State on Dec. 6), they own the head-to-head tiebreaker over TCU and would be the Big 12 champion. Based on these facts, FPI projects Baylor has a 74 percent chance to win the Big 12.

Potential clinching scenarios this week: None.

Pac-12
FPI’s projected winner:
Oregon Ducks (69 percent), UCLA Bruins (15 percent), USC Trojans (9 percent), Arizona State Sun Devils (5 percent)

Oregon clinched the Pac-12 North division before last week’s games, but the South might be the most interesting division in the FBS. There are currently four teams in the Pac-12 South with two conference losses. FPI projects UCLA has the best chance to win the division because of its strength (highest ranking in FPI) and schedule. The Bruins have already beat Arizona State and Arizona, so if they beat USC on Saturday, they would be in great position to win the South. If USC defeats UCLA, however, the Trojans would become the favorite and would clinch the division with a loss by Arizona State earlier in the day. FPI projects UCLA has a 59 percent chance to beat USC at home.

Potential clinching scenarios this week: USC clinches with win AND Arizona State loss.

Big Ten
FPI’s projected winner:
Ohio State Buckeyes (61 percent), Wisconsin (36 percent), Minnesota Golden Gophers (1 percent)

Ohio State and Wisconsin are in control of their respective divisions. Ohio State has to win one of its remaining two games -- versus Indiana and versus Michigan -- to win the Big Ten East without the help of a Michigan State loss. FPI projects Ohio State has a 99 percent chance to win one of those games. The Big Ten West is a little more interesting, with Wisconsin still to face Minnesota. FPI projects Wisconsin has an 87 percent chance to win the division, but Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska are all still alive.

Potential clinching scenarios this week: Wisconsin clinches a berth in the conference championship game with win AND a Minnesota loss. Ohio State clinches a berth in the conference championship game with win OR a Michigan State loss.

SEC
FPI’s projected winner:
Alabama (46 percent), Georgia Bulldogs (39 percent), Ole Miss Rebels (8 percent), Mississippi State Bulldogs (4 percent), Missouri (2 percent)

The SEC remains the most wide-open Power 5 conference. Alabama’s win against Mississippi State added some clarity; if the Tide defeat Auburn on Nov. 29, they will win the SEC West (they can also clinch via losses by Ole Miss AND Mississippi State). FPI projects the Tide have a 76 percent chance to win the West, followed by Ole Miss (14 percent) and Mississippi State (10 percent). In the SEC East, Georgia would win the head-to-head tiebreaker over Missouri, but the Tigers currently have a one-game lead in the loss column. Georgia has completed its conference schedule, and Missouri has two remaining SEC games, so if Missouri loses at Tennessee or versus Arkansas, Georgia wins the division. FPI projects Missouri has an 85 percent chance to lose either of those games.

Potential clinching scenarios this week: Georgia clinches division with Missouri loss. Alabama clinches division with losses by Mississippi State AND Ole Miss.

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PAC-12 SCOREBOARD

Friday, 11/28
Saturday, 11/29