Yesterday, in honor of the World Cup, the Pac-12 blog looked at the best wins for each Pac-12 team during the last four years for the South and North divisions. Truth be told, the World Cup thing is just an excuse to write a post that’s going to make all of you argue. The Pac-12 blog is maniacal like that.
As sweet as those wins were, there is also the sour of some bad losses. Today we turn our attention to the worst losses for each team in the last four years. We start with the Pac-12 North.
Feel free to submit your thoughts on the best win and worst loss for your team over the last four years and we’ll try to run a few later in the week.
There’s a lot to choose from, and that’s unfortunate if you’re a Cal fan. There have been blowout losses to the Stanford, an aching two-point loss to Oregon and many, many other double-digit defeats from which to select. And if you’re only as good as your last game, then Cal is in trouble, because the last time it took the field was a 63-13 loss to Stanford in which Kevin Hogan threw five touchdowns and Ty Montgomery scored touchdowns the first four times he touched the ball (five total). It was a depressing end (for Cal fans) to the first season of the Sonny Dykes era as the Bears failed to beat an FBS team.
Because Oregon won so many games between 2010 and 2013, every loss is severely scrutinized. Losing a national championship game hurts -- especially the way Oregon lost. The 2012 Stanford loss comes to mind, because it represented a shift in power in the league and the Cardinal proved it had a blueprint for stopping the Ducks. The Arizona loss last year was brutal because it knocked the Ducks out of a BCS bowl game and the 26-point defeat was Oregon’s worst since a 34-point loss to USC in 2008. But this half of the Pac-12 blog goes back to the 2011 USC loss, a 38-35 defeat at Autzen where the Ducks clawed all the way back from a 38-14 deficit only to come up short on a missed 37-yard field goal -- essentially killing all of the momentum from the Stanford win the week before and crushing Oregon’s shot at playing in another national title game.
There have been some ugly blowouts and the Beavers were 0-4 in the Civil War between World Cups. The 2012 Alamo Bowl gave rise to the one-liner “Cody Vaz just got sacked again,” which still pops up in the blog comments from time to time (and yes, I fully expect someone to write below: “Cody Vaz got sacked while I was reading this.” Don’t disappoint me, Chongo). And, of course, there were two losses to FCS teams -- a 29-28 OT loss to Sacramento State in 2011 and the 49-46 loss to Eastern Washington in the 2013 season opener. That’s our choice for worst loss, because the Beavers came into the season as a ranked team. With one shockingly bad defensive performance, all the good will they established in 2012 came crumbling down. Any loss to an FCS team is bad, but a home loss when you’re ranked is as brutal as it gets.
Is there a coach with a better winning percentage who gets scrutinized more for one or two plays than David Shaw? He still catches grief over the end of the 2011 Fiesta Bowl and will probably continue to catch more following the 2013 Rose Bowl. (And for the record, it wasn’t the final minute of the Fiesta Bowl that cost Stanford the game, it was the eight catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns by Justin Blackmon). Whatever side of the fence you come down on, neither of those losses were as bad as the 2011 loss to Oregon. That was supposed to be Stanford’s year. Andrew Luck was a senior, the defense was nasty and the tight end trio was pretty much unstoppable. Until it all came apart. The defense had no answers for Oregon’s attack, the receivers looked like they were wearing ball-repellant gloves and why, exactly, was there an oil slick on the field? Bad, bad loss.
This was a tough one. Every loss to Oregon stings. The ASU loss last season was ugly. LSU in 2012 was a smack down. The 2011 loss to Stanford was just as ugly. Anyone want to toss out a “Baylor just scored again” joke? Anyone? But I look at the 2012 Apple Cup as probably the toughest loss. Surely the Huskies, who had already beaten a pair of top-10 teams that season, should have been able to negotiate a 2-9 Cougar squad who was slumping under first-year coach Mike Leach. But Andrew Furney kicked his way into Apple Cup lore with a 45-yard field goal to tie the game inside of two minutes and then a 27-yarder in overtime. For as amazing of a career as Keith Price had, that overtime interception was not his finest moment.
Well, there was the 42-0 blanking at Arizona State in 2010. That wasn’t fun. Neither were the three Apple Cup losses in a four year stretch. And if, just if, they can top Auburn on the road in the season opener last year, the entire landscape of college football would have changed. And let’s not forget the bowl game last year, either (bet you hadn’t, Cougar Brian). But the one I keep going back to was the season opener in 2012 at BYU. A plucky young Pac-12 blogger brazenly picked a 15-point Washington State victory. Not only did that land me on every BYU hit list, but it was a horrible start to the Mike Leach era and a horrible start to a pretty rough year. There was so much offseason excitement in Pullman with Leach’s hire and that was all flushed with WSU’s inability to score a touchdown in the 30-6 loss. The bowl loss to Colorado State is still fresh, but remember how crestfallen, Washington State fans, you felt after that BYU game.