The 2014 Pac-12 Championship Game is tonight. News flash: the U.C.L.A. Bruins are not playing in it.
Despite all the preseason rankings and predictions that the Bruins would win the Pac-12 South and compete for the Conference Championship at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, U.C.L.A. blew its chance for a rematch with Oregon last week when it slept walked into the Rose Bowl and laid an egg against Stanford.
That loss, combined with Arizona's win over rival ASU on Saturday, catapulted the Wildcats into the title game and sets up a rematch of the early October meeting between the two teams when Arizona went into Autzen Stadium in Eugene and upset the favored Ducks. An upset win? Wonder what that feels like.
Arizona has now won two in a row over Oregon and Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich has yet to beat Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats. If Arizona can pull off the trifecta tonight, they will win their first Pac-12 Title and put themselves on the very short list for the College Football Playoff. That's an Arizona team we very comfortably beat 17-7, by the way.
Oregon sits at number 2 in the latest CFP poll and will secure its place in the Final Four with a win. Arizona can make a case for itself with an other upset tonight, but at number 7, the Wildcats may need some help from other teams above them and some extra love from the CFP Committee to get into the top 4. It's possible that an ugly Arizona win could drop Oregon but not advance Arizona far enough and leave the Pac-12 out of the College Football Playoff altogether - which actually sounds not all that unpredictable.
On the other hand, a blowout win by Oregon opens the possibility of the Wildcats falling far enough that U.C.L.A. ends up in front of them and puts us in line for a better bowl. The odds of the Bruins backdooring themselves into the top 10 and getting a New Year's Day game is essentially impossible, though.
So this game, for all intents, has little direct effect on our Bruins, except to serve as a yet another bitter reminder of what could have been for U.C.L.A. this year. When you rue our home loss to Stanford, consider that our home loss to Utah, and our home loss to Oregon, had the same effect at the end of the year in keeping us out of tonight's Pac-12 Championship game. And when you think about how we barely beat Cal and went to double OT against lowly Colorado, maybe that results shouldn't be a surprise. But it is if you think about how we blew out ASU and thoroughly dominated Washington and Southern Cal and Arizona.
Yes, that Arizona.
Anyway, here is our open thread for anyone who feels that pushing on the bruise is necessary and provides some sort of therapeutic benefit.
Like me. Ouch.