How Oregon’s shocking loss to Oregon State hurts Pac-12’s slim Playoff hopes

How Oregon's shocking loss to Oregon State hurts Pac-12's slim Playoff hopes

No. 15 Oregon blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead in a shocking 41-38 loss to Oregon State on Friday.

The Beavers scored 22 points in the fourth quarter, and that rally put the Pac-12’s hopes of putting a team in the College Football Playoff in jeopardy.  

Did this loss knock the conference out of the CFP? PoliticSay takes a look at the impact of the Ducks’ loss:  

The Ducks are out  

Oregon could still win the Pac-12, but it would be hard to overcome this loss as far as the Playoff is concerned knowing the conference adopted a six-game schedule when it decided to return on Nov. 7.

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The Ducks won their first three games by an average of 12.7 points per game, but the defending conference champions were still ranked No. 15 in the first set of CFP rankings. This loss could knock them out of the top 25 in the second set Tuesday.  

So, Oregon is eliminated. Which schools are left?

Who is still unbeaten?  

No. 18 USC, Colorado and Washington are the only unbeaten teams remaining in the conference. The Pac-12 is allowing teams to schedule games out of conference if their scheduled conference games are canceled.

Two of those unbeaten teams have been affected this week. The Trojans (3-0) had to cancel their game against Colorado (2-0) because of COVID-19 concerns. The Buffaloes are playing San Diego State on Saturday as a result. Colorado had its game against Arizona State canceled on Nov. 21.  

Washington (2-0) had its opener against Cal canceled. The Huskies continue their season against Utah on Saturday.

None of those unbeaten teams will have played more than five games when the Pac-12 championship is played on Friday, Dec. 18. The best any of those teams can finish is 6-0.  

What alternatives could those schools have?  

If any of those teams has another game canceled and is capable of playing, then they should try to schedule BYU (9-0).  

The Cougars have an open date on Dec. 5. BYU is No. 14 in the College Football Playoff rankings, which is higher than any Pac-12 team. 

Can the Pac-12 make the Playoff?  

The College Football Playoff does not have a minimum number of games to qualify, but a six-game resume might not be enough for a school to get in. 

Is that the conference’s fault? You cannot blame the Pac-12 for looking out for the health and safety of student-athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the decision to start the season on Nov. 4 left no room for bye weeks, and that could end up meaning the conference misses out on the Playoff for the fourth consecutive season.  

Oregon (2014) and Washington (2016) are the only teams from the conference to make the Playoff since 2014. The Ducks were the best bet to make the Playoff this season, and now that possibility is over.  

There is a lot of ground to make up in three weeks for the remaining teams, and three weeks might not be enough to cover it. 

Who benefits most from Oregon’s loss? 

Notre Dame, Cincinnati and Texas A&M. 

Notre Dame (9-0) could still get in the Playoff even with a loss in the ACC championship game. Cincinnati (8-0) its game this week against Temple canceled because of COVID-19, but the Bearcats have a better Playoff case at this point over the Pac-12 unbeaten teams. Even Texas A&M (5-1) could be in better position if it wins out. 

Those top-10 teams had the most to gain from the Pac-12 bowing out of the Playoff race. Their Playoff hopes look a lot better now.