1 Pac-12 South heats up
The popular narrative before the season began was that the Pac-12 North would again be the tougher of the conference’s two divisions. And while the North still has the league’s best team (Oregon), the South appears deeper, with five teams ranked in both major polls this week, and four teams with just one Pac-12 loss. One of those teams, ASU, visits UW this week, while another two, USC and Utah, play each other. Meanwhile, Oregon is the only North team still ranked, while defending Pac-12 champion Stanford has three losses. Up is down, and South is North.
2 Picky, picky
Notre Dame appeared to score a game-winning touchdown against Florida State last week, but it was wiped out by a pass interference call against a Notre Dame receiver who set what’s known as a pick — essentially blocking a defender before the pass was thrown. If you’re an Irish fan, your gripe likely centers around the fact that many offenses run similar plays all the time, but aren’t called for it. Something tells me such strategy might become a point of emphasis for officiating crews across the country — especially on scoring plays.
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3 81 years coming
Would it surprise you to learn that there is a relatively successful SEC football program that hasn’t beaten Auburn since 1933? It’s true. South Carolina hasn’t beaten the Tigers in 81 years, and the teams have played each other only six times in the regular season since South Carolina joined the SEC in 1991. Auburn’s overall record in the series is 9-1-1. Can’t decide which of those statistics is more remarkable. South Carolina has a chance to end the streak this weekend with a 4:30 p.m. game Saturday at Auburn.
4 Speaking of streaks
For all the consternation over Oregon’s decade of dominance against Washington, it’s actually been longer since the Huskies have beaten Arizona State, which visits Husky Stadium for a 7:45 p.m. game Saturday. ASU has won eight consecutive games in the series, including a 53-24 whupping in Tempe last season. UW has beaten every other Pac-12 team more recently than it has beaten the Sun Devils. But ASU isn’t Oregon, so you won’t hear much about it this week.
5 UNC scandal
A report from the University of North Carolina revealed on Wednesday that for a period of 18 years, academic advisers pushed sham classes on UNC athletes, including football players, to help maintain their eligibility. One of the most damning emails related to the investigation was sent by a UNC professor to another employee, confirming that a “D” grade for an essay would be fine to give to a women’s basketball player because “that’s all she needs.” The biggest lesson here, of course, is that if you’re going to incriminate yourself via email, try to avoid doing it through your public, university-issued account. All hail public record laws.