Pac-12 Update: The Climb Begins

It wasn’t as wild a weekend of college football as the previous week, but this past Saturday provided plenty of its own excitement.

Playoff Contenders

Mississippi State Bulldogs

In a turn of events that few saw coming, Mississippi State is now the top rated football team in the country. They have certainly earned it, as they have now defeated a top 10 team in the country for the third straight week. The Bulldogs defeated the previously undefeated Auburn Tigers by the score of 38-23, and are now in the driver’s seat for the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Bulldogs started the year unranked, and are being led by an emerging Heisman contender at quarterback, Dak Prescott. Prescott is an incredibly effective quarterback with his arm and feet, as he threw for 246 yards while adding 121 and 2 scores off of 21 carries. Their schedule finally lets up for a bit, as they face a string of unranked teams until they travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the 7th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on November 15th.

It was easy to smile on Saturday if you were a Duck fan

Photo by David Pyles

It was easy to smile on Saturday if you were a Duck fan.

Florida State Seminoles

The defending champs saw their ranking drop, despite defeating the Syracuse Orange on the road, 38-20. The Orange were unranked as well as missing their starting quarterback, and looked overmatched at times against the then top ranked team in the country. Jameis Winston blocked out yet another week filled with discussion about him off of the field, and delivered one of his best performances, throwing for over 300 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. The Seminoles face a much bigger threat next week, as the undefeated and 5th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish come to town, in a game that will feature College Gameday on site, and be nationally televised. For either team, picking up a big win against a top 10 team will be a great resume booster when it comes time for the selection committee to decide which teams participate in the playoffs.

Ole Miss Rebels

Another surprise team from the state of Mississippi, Ole Miss now finds itself retaining its ranking from last week as the third best team in the country. Ole Miss is coming off the heels of a very impressive road victory against Texas A&M, where they defeated the Aggies, 35-20. Quarterback Bo Wallace scored once through the air and added two more touchdowns with his legs, as the Rebels continue to string along a dream season. Ole Miss will visit Tennessee next week, but then travel to the always dangerous Death Valley of the LSU Tigers. Despite LSU being unranked, they are still a dangerous team, and their home field advantage cannot be denied.

Oregon fans traveled well to Pasadena

Photo by David Pyles

Oregon fans traveled well to Pasadena.

Baylor Bears

Baylor’s offense continues to chug along, as they have now climbed into the top 5, settling into the 4th spot. The Bears enjoyed their first victory over a ranked team on Saturday, as they defeated an in-state rival, the 9th ranked TCU Horned Frogs in quite the shootout, 61-58. The Bears are leading the nation with an incredible 52.7 points per game, however they have done that against some not so formidable competition. Their schedule does become more challenging towards the end, as 3 of their last 4 games are against ranked opponents.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

One of the most polarizing teams in the nation, Notre Dame, has been almost under the radar this season; however, they have steadily climbed up the rankings, all the way to the number 5 team in the nation. Following a gritty, impressive victory over the Stanford Cardinal, the Fighting Irish struggled to defeat unranked North Carolina at home, 50-43. Despite giving up 43 points last week, their defense is still very stout, only conceding 17.2 points per game, good for 8th in the country. However, they now face their biggest test yet, as they travel to Florida State for the previously mentioned top 5 showdown against the Seminoles.

Pac 12 Contenders

Oregon defeating UCLA essentially knocked the Bruins out of the playoff discussion barring an unprecedented run of upsets. The Arizona Wildcats dropped their first game as a top ten team, losing a thriller to the USC Trojans, 28-26. The loss dropped them to the 16th spot in the AP Poll, and they will travel to Pullman to face the Washington State Cougars. That leaves the Oregon schools, Washington, Utah, and the Arizona schools as the only conference teams with one loss. If any of these teams were to win out, it’s hard to imagine a one loss Pac-12 champion being left out of the College Football Playoff. There is obviously a lot of football left to play, as conference play is now really heating up.

Cross Country

The Ducks cross country team faces a tough test this weekend, as they travel to Terre Haute, Indiana for the Pre-National Invitational on Saturday, October 18th.

Volleyball

This weekend brought disappointment for the Ducks volleyball team, as they fell to their bitter rivals, the Washington Huskies. The Ducks, who were ranked 11th to start the match, won the first game against the 3rd ranked Huskies, but then lost the next three to lose the match. It was only the second loss of the season for Oregon, as the other one came against the top ranked Stanford Cardinal. The Ducks will have the opportunity to bounce back this week, as they will head down to southern California, to take on the 17th ranked UCLA Bruins, and the 20th ranked USC Trojans.

feature photo by David Pyles

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Steven Holstad

Steven Holstad

Originally from San Diego, Steven decided to take a shot on attending a school over 1000 miles from home, and he’s been happy ever since. Steven graduated from the University of Oregon in 2013, and his passion for sports has followed him into his post-college life. A huge fan of both basketball and football, Steven enjoys incorporating both statistics and his own personal beliefs into his writing. When he’s not watching sports, Steven is currently training for his first half-marathon, and is looking to run a few more in the future. You can follow Steven on Twitter at @StevenHolstad