This is going to be a hell of a game between two Pac-12 North opponents with early aspirations of a berth in the College Football Playoff. It’s tough to pick but I’ll have to go with the Stanford Cardinal. Mostly because I like to rely on what I know, rather than what I think I might know.
I know Stanford is a solid, well-coached team that’s not afraid of playing big games on the road. I know the Cardinal is good for about 24 points on any given, and I know its opponent is normally held around 13. I know Christian McCaffrey is the most electric player in college football. I know I can count on Stanford.
I think I might know that Washington has the talent to win this game. I think I might know that the secondary is lights-out. I think I might know this could be the year the Huskies sneak up on everyone and end up in a semi-final. What I do know about Washington is that I don’t know enough about Washington.
U-Dub has beaten up on three teams that didn’t belong on the same field and escaped Tucson with a 35-28 win over an awful Arizona Wildcats team. This weekend is our best opportunity to see what the Huskies are really made. I hope you didn’t have Friday night plans.
Still, as much as Washington needs to prove itself to a national audience, so does Stanford. The Cardinal will also be looking to impress the committee, having robbed UCLA last weekend. Again, I’m going with Stanford, but this one’s a win-win for me.
All this is to say, I don’t want to smack down Stanford or Washington. This is going to be a great game and I’ll be happy either way it goes, honestly. No, the real chump here is the Pac-12.
You’ve got two top 10 teams facing off in the best game your conference has to offer all season and you’ve fumbled it into a 9 p.m. Eastern start on a Friday night in September. Forget about the ratings. Those numbers will be laughable.
As a conference, you’ve got one shot at sending a team to the playoff in this, a “down” year. You need an undefeated team that cannot be denied a spot. The best way to do that is to showcase your big boys beating up on each other and let everyone see which team emerges. In the Pac-12’s case, it had this one shot to do so, and the game is being stashed away on a Friday night.
The idea might have seemed cool at the time, but how ‘bout now? Yeah, as it’s turned out, not such a good idea after all. Think back to Stanford’s opening week, too. Oops, another Friday night fireworks special. This is not high school football.
So, Pac-12, stop with the Friday night nonsense. Get your primetime games on Saturdays like the other Power 5 conferences, or surrender your membership to the club.
I guess there is a bright spot here. At least the game won’t be broadcast on the Pac-12’s failure of a network. That thing will take you longer to find than it’ll take an eight-year-old to pick all the choice pieces in his or her giant pillow case of upcoming Halloween candy.
E-mail Mitch at [email protected] and follow him @GreatGatzke.