UCLA won’t be around to bail out the Pac-12 this weekend.
The Bruins’ victory against LSU was the highlight of an otherwise unimpressive Week 1 for the West Coast’s Power Five conference. The Pac-12 North was especially bad, going 1-5 with losses to two teams from the Mountain West teams and one from the Big Sky.
That’s an FCS conference. A good one, but still.
No. 16 UCLA gets a well-deserved week off, but the rest of the conference is in action, including nine nonconference games.
At the top of the menu is No. 12 Oregon at No. 3 Ohio State. The Ducks are the Pac-12 defending champion and favorite. Ohio State is the same in the Big Ten.
That would seem to be a fair fight, but not according to the odds makers. FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Buckeyes as more than a two-touchdown favorite.
That says a lot about where the Pac-12 is right now, trying to break a four-season College Football Playoff drought. The Pac-12 has not beaten a top-five team in a nonconference game since 2015, when Stanford knocked off No. 4 Notre Dame.
The other marquee Midwest-Northwest game of the weekend was supposed to be taking place at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Washington visits the Wolverines from a primetime national TV game coming off 13-7 loss to Montana from the Big Sky. Way to kill the mood, Huskies.
No. 5 Texas A&M faces Colorado in Denver at the home of the Denver Broncos. No. 21 Utah is at rival BYU and California, coming off a loss to Nevada, is at TCU.
Among that group, Utah is the only one favored. This is not setting up well for a bounce-back weekend for the Pac-12, but as was the case last week with UCLA, one big victory can overshadow a several ugly losses.
If the Ducks can upset the Buckeyes in Columbus, it hardly matters what the rest of the conference does Saturday.