The team at the top (Oregon), the team at the bottom (Arizona) and a player in the middle (USC's Drake London) are the focus of this week's Pac-12 football questions:
Question No. 1: Where will Oregon be placed in the first College Football Playoff rankings?
The first CFP rankings will be released Tuesday, and though the Tuesday rankings won't be the final rankings, they may be the most revealing, especially for Oregon.
Where the committee places Oregon this week will tell us how it views Oregon's resume and the Pac-12 in general. Where the Ducks land relative to Ohio State and Cincinnati will be particularly enlightening.
Oregon is ranked seventh in the AP poll released Sunday, while Ohio State is sixth and Cincinnati is second. The CFP rankings typically align closely with the AP poll. In the final before conference championship games were played last season, the AP poll read like this:
2. Notre Dame
3. Ohio State
5. Texas A&M
The CFP rankings that same week read like this, with only Ohio State and Clemson reversed:
2. Notre Dame
4. Ohio State
5. Texas A&M
Oregon fans will claim the Ducks should be placed ahead of Ohio State because they beat the Buckeyes' on the Buckeyes' homefield -- without Kayvon Thibodeaux. Ohio State fans will claim the Buckeyes have a better overall resume, since Oregon lost to a Stanford team that is 2-5 in its other seven games.
There's also the question of strength of schedule, which brings Cincinnati into the discussion because it plays in the American Athletic Conference, not one of the five power conferences. But Cincinnati has that win over Notre Dame on its resume. Then you must decide which strength-of-schedule metrics to use, since different strength-of-schedule rankings provide very different results. Ultimately, the strength-of-schedule issue is somewhat subjective as well.
Here's our guess as to how the first CFP rankings will shake out Tuesday:
3. Michigan State
6. Ohio State
Question No. 2: How historic is Arizona's 20-game losing streak?
Well, it's the longest in Pac-12 history, and only 13 FBS teams have had longer ones. The longest previous conference losing streaks were owned by Oregon State and Washington at 15 in a row each, and the Beavers lost 15 straight twice. (You may be interested to know that USC has never lost more than six in a row, and every other Pac-12 school has weathered a losing streak longer than that.)
Arizona's 20-game skid is the longest FBS losing streak since 2018 when UTEP ended its 20-game losing streak.
The record for the longest losing streak by an FBS (Division I-A) team is 34, by Northwestern. That's a long way off for Arizona, but an Arizona loss to Cal next Saturday in Tucson would move the Wildcats into the top 10. Or at least a tie for the 10th spot.
Here are the longest FBS losing streaks (and you will note that Duke is on there twice):
1. Northwestern -- 34 (1979-82)
2. Virginia -- 28 (1958-61)
2. Kansas State -- 28 (1945-48)
4. New Mexico State -- 27 (1988-90)
4. Eastern Michigan -- 27 (1980-82)
6. Colorado State -- 26 (1960-63)
7. Duke -- 23 (1999-2002)
7. Northern Illinois -- 23 (1996-98)
9. Duke -- 22 (2005-07)
10. Ball State -- 21 (1999-2000)
10. South Carolina -- 21 (1998-2000)
10. New Mexico -- 21 (1967-69)
The record for the longest losing streak in college football is the massive 80-game losing streak by Prairie View A&M, an FCS (Division I-AA) school, in the 1990's.
The sense here is that Arizona's streak will end this season, perhaps next week, as the Wildcats nearly beat Washington two weeks ago and stayed with USC until the end in a 41-34 loss to the Trojans on Saturday. Arizona has beaten Cal, its next foe, five times in a row, has not lost to the Bears since 2009 and has not lost to the Golden Bears in Tucson since 2004 when Aaron Rodgers was Cal's quarterback.
Question No. 3: Is Drake London's remarkable season over?
The simple answer is, yes.
USC interim head coach Donte Williams announced Sunday night that London's season is over, and it's not a surprise after the Trojans' wide receiver was taken off the field in a cart in the second quarter of Saturday's game.
The ankle injury he suffered ended his chance of being named Pac-12 offensive player of the year.
He seemed destined for another big day on Saturday, recording nine catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns in less than one half. It leaves London with 88 receptions for 1,084 receiving yards.
USC has four regular-season games and a possible bowl game remaining, and London was within reach of the Pac-12 single-season receptions and receiving-yards records, both of which are held by Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, who had 128 catches for 1,730 yards in 2013.
The FBS record for receptions in a season is 158, set by East Carolina's Zay Jones in 2016.
Last week, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper ranked London No. 4 in his list of the top 25 NFL prospects. London was one of three Pac-12 players in Kiper's top eight, joining Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (No. 1) and Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd (No. 8).
Before he was injured London seemed to be a shoo-in to be named a first-team All-American this season, and it will be interesting to see whether he still earns some postseason honors, such as the Biletnikoff Award.
Question No. 4: Is Washington State the second-best team in the conference?
Oregon is clearly the best Pac-12 team at the moment, but which team is No. 2? Oregon State, Arizona State and UCLA lost on Saturday, so the honor presumably goes to Pac-12 South leader Utah, which is 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the conference.
However, you could make a pretty strong case for Washington State being the second-best team. The Cougars, picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North, have won four straight conference games, including wins over Oregon State and Arizona State.
WSU is currently in second place in the North, a half-game behind Oregon, which happens to be the Cougars' next opponent, on Nov. 13, after having a bye this week.
Washington State's only loss since Sept. 25 was a two-point defeat against BYU, which is ranked 17th this week.
And the Cougars are doing it with an overhauled coaching staff.
Question No. 5: Will there be a Garbers vs. Garbers matchup when UCLA faces Cal?
Presumably, UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson will be ready to go when the Bruins host Cal on Nov. 27 in their final regular-season game. But a shoulder injury kept him out of Saturday's game against Utah, giving freshman Ethan Garbers his first start.
Garbers threw for 265 yards, nearly identical to the 262 yards older brother Chase Garbers recorded for Cal the same day. The big difference was that Cal beat Oregon State, and the Bruins lost to Utah.
Given the various aches and pains that have plagued Thompson-Robinson throughout the season, it's not a reach to suggest Ethan Garbers might be UCLA's quarterback against Cal and his brother Chase.
The brothers conceivably could face off next season, as Chase has the option of returning for a sixth season in 2022.
The Pac-12 top five teams:
1. Oregon (7-1) – Ducks are the only Pac-12 team that is ranked this week.
2. Utah (5-3) -- Beating UCLA on the road is significant, even if UCLA did not have its No. 1 quarterback.
3. Washington State (5-4) -- Who's been better the past five weeks?
4. Oregon State (5-3) – Beavers are just 1-3 on the road.
5. Arizona State (5-3) -- Sun Devils had an ugly performance Saturday and barely edge out UCLA for the final spot.
Pac-12 Player of the Year Standings
Typically we're getting a pretty good idea of the contenders in this category by this point of the season, but this year each week seems to bring more uncertainty. We aren't putting a defensive player on this list yet, but we're tempted.
1. Anthony Brown, Oregon quarterback -- He's in the top spot because no one else deserves it at the moment. Brown is the quarterback of the best team in the Pac-12, which counts for a lot, and he had his best game of the season Saturday against Colorado.
2. Drake London, USC wide receiver -- We will keep him here for one more week -- until we learn his prognosis.
3. B.J. Baylor, Oregon State running back -- He still leads the Pac-12 in rushing at 109 yards a game, but he was a non-factor in the Beavers' loss to Cal, gaining just 42 yards on 13 carries. .
4. Cameron Rising, Utah quarterback -- Utes are 4-1 in his starts, and he did not throw any interceptions in the four wins.
5. Jayden de Laura, Washington State quarterback – He leads the Pac-12 in touchdown passes with 17, and the Cougars are 5-1 when he starts and is available for the entire game.
Cover photo of Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown is by Chris Pietsch, The Register-Guard, USA TODAY NETWORK
Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53
Find Cal Sports Report on Facebook by searching: @si.calsportsreport or going to https://www.facebook.com/si.calsportsreport