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Wolf: Pac-12 championship game only lacks national title implications

By in Press Enterprise on November 28, 2017

By Scott Wolf

A lot is at stake this weekend as conference championship games will determine who goes to the College Football Playoff.

Unfortunately for the Pac-12, its own championship game in Santa Clara will have no bearing on college football’s most suspenseful weekend. And it will be played on Friday night, long before the Big Boys suit up Saturday to determine the nation’s top four teams.

The Pac-12 did manage to get lucky when Stanford won the Pac-12 North. Washington State is a shell of the team that went undefeated in September and would have been a horrible opponent for USC, especially after playing in Seattle on Saturday night and then going to the Bay Area for a Friday game.

Instead, Stanford will play a mock home game about 15 minutes from campus. The Cardinal will not have much rest either after playing Notre Dame last weekend, but Cardinal coach David Shaw sounded ready Monday.

“We’ve backed off a lot the last four weeks of the schedule anyways,” Shaw said.

A wise move by the Pac-12’s best coach. Who had the Cardinal winning the North when they were 1-2 after back-to-back losses to USC and San Diego State? Well, I did pick them to win it in August, but I don’t want to brag.

Stanford is always in the picture because it has the conference’s best coach. That gives it a chance despite the horrible circumstances of the game, where Stanford plays two games in six days and USC is coming off a bye.

USC quarterback Sam Darnold tried to downplay the advantage.

“Our guys are healthy, it was tough to go 12 straight weeks,” he said. “At the same time, you could look at Stanford and say they’re on a roll and it’s good to keep going.”

If Shaw is the best coach, no one will confuse USC’s coaching staff […]    

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