Just past the halfway point of the season, Oregon and Oregon State had only one loss between them. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was a Hesiman Trophy contender and OSU's Sean Mannion was producing huge numbers of his own.
Everybody knew OSU's schedule was about to get much tougher, but nobody would have imagined the Beavers and Ducks being in their current state. OSU has lost four straight games and Oregon has dropped two of three and the latest episodes were embarrassing. The Beavers lost 69-27 to Washington after trailing 48-0 in the third quarter and the Ducks fell 42-16 at Arizona.
The convergence obviously reduces the amout of intrigue in Friday's Civil War game at Eugene. Both teams are ticketed to non-BCS bowl games, so only the rivalry itself can sustain much of an interest level.
The Beavers are reeling after giving up 530 rushing yards to Washington. Overall, OSU's performance was "as out of character as I've seen us play, ever," said coach Mike Riley. "We're going to have to be so drastically different."
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich expects his players to respond this week, saying of the Arizona defeat, "They flushed it well."
Big numbers across the board
Six conference games were staged in the Pac-12 last Saturday for one of the few times all season, and a clear theme emerged: Offense ruled the day. All six winning teams produced at least 38 points, with Washington's 69 and Stanford's 63 (vs. California) topping the list.
Some epic individual performances contributed to the scoring outbursts. Stanford's Ty Montgomery scored touchdowns each of the first four times he touched the ball, with a 31-yard run and receptions of 50, 12 and 72 yards. He added a 9-yard TD catch late in the first half.
Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey rushed for 206 yards and four touchdowns on 48 carries, topping his usually high workload. Washington's production was powered by three 100-yard rushers.
Championship matchup set
Arizona State and Stanford will go into their final regular-season games knowing they'll play in next week's Pac-12 championship game. The only remaining question is where they'll meet.
ASU can earn the host's berth by beating Arizona. If the Sun Devils lose, they'll to travel to Stanford, which has concluded conference play and meets Notre Dame this week.
The Sun Devils clinched the clinched the South division title with a 38-33 win at UCLA. ASU nearly blew a 35-13 lead, but stopped a Bruin drive that reached the ASU 6-yard line in the fourth quarter.
In the three seasons since the conference's expansion, four schools have qualified for the Pac-12 championship game: Oregon and Stanford in the North and UCLA and ASU in the South. USC had the South's best record in 2011, but was ineligible for postseason play.
Thanks to Washington State's victory over Utah and Colorado's loss to USC, the Pac-12 is locked in with nine bowl-eligible teams. The league has seven affiliations, counting the Rose Bowl. Barring upsets this weekend, the New Mexico Bowl with the last pick should have its choice of Washington State, Oregon State and Arizona. The other two schools would need to find vacancies in other bowls.
With a win over WSU, Washington would be 8-4 and a solid pick for the Fight Hunger Bowl, opposing BYU.