This was the kind of Saturday the Pac-12 had been avoiding this year.
We hadn’t seen the crazy upsets which upend the Pac-12’s College Football Playoff hopes. We hadn’t seen the chaos which usually leaves the Pac-12 on the outside looking in. We hadn’t seen the face-plants, stumbles, and slip-ups which ruin this conference’s postseason picture.
Just wait until November. It eventually happens.
To be sure, we were all stunned that Washington went into Autzen Stadium and beat Oregon, and we were shocked that UCLA couldn’t score even as many as 30 points against Arizona, an unfathomably bad showing by the Bruins. Merely 35 points against an atrocious Wildcat defense would have been enough.
Yet, as shocking as Saturday was within the 2022 season itself, it certainly wasn’t shocking in a larger historical context. This is what happens to the Pac-12 on a regular basis.
It has also happened to Chip Kelly in particular. Let’s review:
NOVEMBER 17, 2012: STANFORD 17, OREGON 14 (OT)
Chip Kelly’s 2012 Oregon team was unbeaten and No. 2 in the country in mid-November. If Oregon won out, it was going to be in the Pac-12 Championship Game and the BCS National Championship Game.
The Ducks’ offense played poorly, but they still led Stanford with two minutes left in regulation. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan found Zach Ertz in the back of the end zone for a tying touchdown with 1:35 left. Stanford shut out Oregon in overtime and got a field goal to pull off the shocker. Stanford won the Pac-12 title by beating UCLA. Oregon missed a chance to make the BCS title game for the second time in three seasons.
November busted up the Pac-12’s national title hopes … and Chip Kelly’s dreams.
NOVEMBER 12, 2022: ARIZONA 34, UCLA 28
Chip Kelly took it on the chin again. He lost at home to Stanford in November of 2012, but that Stanford team was really good.
The Arizona team he lost to this weekend is 4-6 and still needs two more wins to go bowling. How crazy was this UCLA loss? Let’s count the ways:
ARIZONA'S 45 FACTOR
Arizona had given up 45 or more points to five of its last six opponents.
UCLA — you know, the offense which just scored 50 against Arizona State, with DTR and Zach Charbonnet on the roster — managed only 28.
DTR TORCHES HEISMAN CHANCES
Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw away any possible chance at the Heisman Trophy with this loss to Arizona. It was a crowded field with Bo Nix and Caleb Williams also in the mix. Maybe DTR can still get a spot as a Heisman finalist, but his chances of winning the award are gone.
Arizona closed as a 19- or 20-point underdog in various betting markets.
The Arizona-UCLA upset completed a day of road shockers by huge underdogs. This upset came on a day when Vanderbilt (17), Boston College (19), and Washington (13) also won as double-digit road underdogs against teams which had previously been ranked in the national top 10 at some point in the 2022 season.
NOVEMBER 12, 2022 -- WASHINGTON 37, OREGON 34
Oregon eliminated itself from national championship contention in a home loss to a rival in November. It happened in 2012, and it happened 10 years later. Wrenching, if you’re a Duck.
OREGON AND UCLA PARALLELS, BEYOND CHIP KELLY
Oregon lost in much the same way that UCLA did: by underperforming on offense. Washington gave up 45 at Arizona State, 40 at UCLA, 39 to Arizona.
Oregon underperformed all those numbers and left plenty of points on the field in a narrow loss.
NOVEMBER 20, 2021: UTAH 38, OREGON 7
Oregon was No. 3 and had a path to the College Football Playoff. The Ducks were dump-trucked by Utah and ushered out of the playoff chase.
NOVEMBER 23, 2019: ARIZONA STATE 31, OREGON 28
Oregon had a chance at the playoff, but couldn’t beat a Herm Edwards-coached Arizona State squad. Mario Cristobal could not win big November games with the playoff still within his reach.
NOVEMBER 14, 2015: OREGON 38, STANFORD 36
It wasn’t always Oregon which floppped at home in November with the playoff being within reach. Stanford stumbled at home against the Ducks in 2015, ranked No. 7 and having a path to the playoff if it won out.
Stanford defeated Notre Dame late in the 2015 season. That win could have vaulted the Cardinal into the playoff had they beaten Oregon a few weeks earlier, but they did not. Oregon had three losses in 2015, one year after losing Marcus Mariota to the NFL following its march to the 2014 season’s national championship game. This was a massive missed opportunity for David Shaw and Christian McCaffrey.
NOVEMBER 19, 2011: USC 38, OREGON 35
Trojan fans definitely remember this win over Chip Kelly. USC was ineligible for the Pac-12 Championship Game due to the NCAA’s sanctions of the program in that Paul Dee-led witch hunt. USC made this game its Super Bowl under coach Lane Kiffin and quarterback Matt Barkley, and it got the job done.
MORE ON 2011 USC-OREGON
If you recall, this Saturday game in November of 2011 occurred one day after No. 2 Oklahoma State lost at Iowa State on a Friday night. Oregon had the chance to move into the No. 2 slot with a win over USC. Nope. Didn’t happen.
MATT BARKLEY'S GREATEST GAME AS A TROJAN
Barkley threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns on that night in Autzen Stadium. He passed Carson Palmer on the all-time USC touchdown passes list with 73.
“We expected to shock everybody except ourselves,” Barkley said. “I think this was a defining game for us. We set ourselves apart on both sides of the ball.”
That upset of Oregon was Lane Kiffin’s best game as USC head coach.
“I never felt comfortable,” Kiffin said about Oregon. “You can’t get comfortable. They’re just so explosive.”
CHIP KELLY AFTER LOSING TO USC IN 2011
“I didn’t feel like it was a hangover,” Kelly said, in reference to the fact that Oregon beat No. 3 Stanford and Andrew Luck one week before the USC game. “The credit goes to that other team. That’s a good football team.”
BIG FACT ABOUT 2011 OREGON-USC
This was Chip Kelly’s first loss at Autzen Stadium as Oregon coach.
The second one: the 2012 loss to Stanford, also when the College Football Playoff was within reach in November.
The Pac-12 simply sets fire to its playoff hopes this month.
Another year, another case of Pac-12 cannibalization.
NOVEMBER 19, 2022 -- CAN USC AVOID THE PAC-12 NOVEMBER PROBLEM?
The Trojans are still alive in the hunt for a playoff spot, but they have not been playing well. Can they lift their game, or will they become the latest Pac-12 playoff hopeful to lose in November and squander a chance to make the big show? We’ll find out this coming Saturday.