Pac-12’s CFP contenders need Tennessee, Clemson, TCU to lose

Five need-to-knows for Week 10 in Pac-12 football …

1. ‘Tis the season …

For scoreboard watching.

November brings the College Football Playoff rankings, which are based on quality wins, schedule strength, comparative scores, loss totals, etc.

Rare is the stretch-run result that exists in a vacuum.

Scores from across the country will serve to strengthen or weaken the resumes of the Pac-12’s three playoff contenders (Oregon, UCLA and USC).

The conference needs as many zero- and one-loss teams to lose as possible, thus eliminating competition for its 12-1 champion — if one emerges.

This weekend, Pac-12 fans should be rooting for (CFP rankings used):

— No. 3 Georgia to beat No. 1 Tennessee, preferably by a large margin. Any one-loss SEC team would be compared to Oregon. If that team has a better comparable score — or beat the Bulldogs outright — the Ducks’ resume looks worse due to their 49-3 loss to the defending champs.

— Michigan State to beat No. 16 Illinois. Anything that bolsters MSU’s resume enhances Washington’s victory over the Spartans. That, in turn, would strengthen the profile of any Pac-12 playoff contender with a win over the Huskies. UCLA has one, and Oregon gets its chance next week.

— Brigham Young to beat Boise State. The Cougars (4-4) have stumbled since their Week Three loss to Oregon. If they finish with a winning record, that would help the Ducks.

— Notre Dame to beat No. 4 Clemson. This result would help USC’s case in the event the Trojans beat Notre Dame in the regular-season finale. It would also hand the Tigers their first loss. An undefeated ACC champion would gobble one of the semifinal berths.

— Texas Tech to beat No. 7 TCU. The Horned Frogs are undefeated and, like Clemson, pose a serious threat to any one-loss Pac-12 champion.

2. Bowl math

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with six bowl-eligible teams but will remain stuck on that number for at least another week.

Washington State (4-4) is the closest to qualification but still needs two victories to clear the bar.

Arizona, Arizona State, Cal and Stanford have difficult roads, with each needing to win three of their final four games.

The last time the Pac-12 had six bowl-eligible teams: 2021

The last time it had seven: 2019.

The last time it had eight or more: 2017.

3. QB happenings

Four teams entered Week 10 with quarterback uncertainty.

At least two situations have been resolved.

— Ben Gulbranson will start for Oregon State on Friday night in Seattle; he’s 3-0 since replacing the injured Chance Nolan.

— Trenton Bourguet will start for ASU against UCLA after throwing for 435 yards in the victory over Colorado.

— Meanwhile, Cam Rising is expected to start for Utah, although that had not been confirmed by coach Kyle Whittingham as of Thursday morning.

Rising was a late scratch last week at Washington State due to lingering injuries from the USC slugfest.

— Finally, J.T. Shrout is expected to start once again for Colorado as freshman Owen McCown recovers from injuries sustained in the victory over Cal.

At this point, the Buffs might opt to preserve McCown’s redshirt and shut him down for the duration.

4. News and notes

Oregon State, which visits Washington, hasn’t won in Husky Stadium since 2008.

Arizona, which visits No. 12 Utah, is seeking its first road victory over a ranked opponent since the 2014 season, when the Wildcats beat … Utah.

Cal, which visits No. 9 USC, has not beaten a top-10 team on the road since … 1951. (Incredible.)

UCLA tailback Zach Charbonnet is averaging 7.53 yards per carry. Within the Power Five, only Alabama’s Jalen Milroe is better (8.48).

In five home games, Washington has outscored its opponents by 110 points.

Oregon has allowed one sack in eight games.

Washington State has 59 tackles for loss. No other Pac-12 defense has more than 50.

5. Peeking ahead

There are five Pac-12 games scheduled for Nov. 12, but only one kickoff time has been announced: ASU visits Washington State at 12:30 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.

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The remaining games have been placed on six-day holds by Fox and ESPN, meaning the start times will be released either Saturday night or Sunday morning:

Arizona at UCLA
Cal at Oregon State
Stanford at Utah
Washington at Oregon

We don’t know the selection order, but the broadcast windows for those games are the following:

4 p.m. Pacific on Fox or FS1
4:30 p.m. Pacific or 6 p.m. local on Pac-12 Networks
7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. Pacific on Fox
7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. Pacific on ESPN

More than likely, the Washington-Oregon game will land in one of the Fox slots, with UCLA-Arizona as the second pick if the Bruins win this weekend.

Also of note:

Nov. 12 will mark the second instance in 2022 of Fox showing a Pac-12 game on its over-the-air network in primetime on the West Coast.

The USC-Fresno State game in Week Three was on Big Fox at 7:30 p.m.

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