The SEC still might be the best league in college football but no conference had more fun in 2014 than the Pac-12.
Week after week, the Pac-12 delivered with elite talent, high-quality coaching and dramatic finishes — both in conference and out. Not even the powerful SEC West could match the theater that the Pac-12 South had to offer this year. And anytime Oregon took the field, it was must-see TV.
There were more Hail Mary’s and overtime finishes in the Pac-12 than anywhere else in the nation. Here are the most dramatic and memorable Pac-12 games of the year:
1. Arizona 31, (2) Oregon 24
Oct. 2, Eugene
The upset heard ‘round the world started the best weekend of action out West. Arizona stunned the Ducks by forcing turnovers, pressuring Marcus Mariota and running the ball. Scooby Wright III became a household name when he stripped Mariota and recovered the fumble to win the game in front of a shocked Autzen Stadium. (The Ducks would have their revenge, however.)
2. Arizona St 38, (16) USC 34
Oct. 4, Los Angeles
It was the wildest weekend of the season as four of the top 10 games of the year took place in Week 6. The wildest of finishes happened in Los Angeles when backup quarterback Mike Bercovici connected with Jaelen Strong on the final play of the game from 46 yards out. Arizona State and USC combined for 34 points in the final quarter.
3. (3) Oregon 46, (7) Michigan St 27
Sept. 6, Eugene
Few gave the Spartans a chance to go to Autzen Stadium and win. But through three quarters, everyone in Eugene had respect for Michigan State. The Spartans gave the Ducks all they could take until a late tipped interception landed in the hands of All-American corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The Ducks surged over the final few minutes.
4. (19) Utah 24, (20) USC 21
Oct. 25, Salt Lake City
It was arguably the biggest win for Utah since moving to the Pac-12 and it happened because Travis Wilson threw a game-winning touchdown pass with eight seconds left in the game. The final drive may be Wilson’s finest of his career, moving the Utes 73 yards on 11 plays in the final two minutes. The score was the game’s fifth lead change.
5. Utah 30, (8) UCLA 28
Oct. 4, Pasadena
The Bruins lived on the edge for most of the first month and it finally caught up with them at home against the underdog Utes. After UCLA allowed the eighth, ninth and tenth sacks of the game against Brett Hundley, Kendal Thompson led the game-winning drive to give Utah a win on the road over a top 10 foe. Andy Phillips nailed a 29-yard field goal with 34 seconds left to give Utah the lead. UCLA then missed not one but two 50-plus-yard field goal attempts as time expired.
6. Arizona 49, Cal 45
Sept. 20, Tucson
It didn’t feature a ranked team at the time and no one realized how important it would become in the South Division race. Arizona’s successful Hail Mary on the game’s final play eventually would help propel the Wildcats into the Pac-12 title game and first put Anu Solomon on the nation’s radar. The Cats scored 36 points in the final quarter to cap the record-setting comeback.
7. (14) Arizona St 19, (17) Utah 16 (OT)
Nov. 1, Tempe
The low-scoring affair featured plenty of special teams as two of the best kickers in the game went toe-to-toe. Zane Gonzalez made four field goals, including the game-tying kick from 30 yards out with 5:47 to play and the game-winner in overtime from 36 yards out. Utah’s Andy Phillips also made three of his own kicks during the game but missed twice on the first overtime possession from 35 yards after a timeout game him a second chance.
8. (14) USC 13, (13) Stanford 10
Sept. 6, Palo Alto
It wasn’t a well-played game of football but it sure was fun to watch. Stanford’s in ability to score in the redzone coupled with some big plays from Cody Kessler and the USC defense gave the Trojans yet another upset win over Stanford. The game was highlighted by bizarre sideline behavior from Steve Sarkisian and Pat Haden.
9. USC 28, (10) Arizona 26
Oct. 11, Tucson
Arizona led after the first quarter and USC led after the second and third. In fact, the Trojans entered the final frame up 28-13 before Anu Solomon led another furious rally. A failed two-point conversion with 1:07 to play left the Cats down by two, but a successful onside kick gave Zona new life. Solomon then raced his offense into field goal range but a last second 36-yard attempt sailed wide right and USC escaped Tucson with a critical win.
10. (14) Arizona 27, Washington 26
Nov. 15, Tucson
The star of this wild game was a kicker. One week after missing a kick that cost Arizona a win over USC, Casey Skowron not only made the game-winning field goal as time expired but scored every point in the fourth quarter for either team and scored a touchdown on a fake field goal in the second quarter. Washington dominated the third quarter but RichRod’s bunch owned the final frame in this wild interdivisional game.
11. (9) Notre Dame 17, (14) Stanford 14
Oct. 4, South Bend
It wasn’t pretty but the finish lived up to the rich history between these two cross-country foes. From the 23-yard line, Everett Golson found Ben Koyack in the endzone on fourth down trailing 14-10 with just 1:01 left on the clock. The defensive battle finished with three lead changes in the final eight minutes.
12. (11) Arizona 42, (13) Arizona St 35
Nov. 28, Tucson
Despite Rich Rodriguez’ best efforts, about midway through the game, both teams realized that The Territorial Cup had become the Pac-12 South championship game. Anu Solomon played solid football all game, as did the Cats defense, regardless of which Arizona State quarterback was in the game. The Sun Devils simply couldn’t close the touchdown gap that existed for most of the game. An early defensive TD was the difference.
13. (23) Utah 20, Stanford 17 (2OT)
Nov. 15, Palo Alto
Both teams were held under 300 yards of offense and they played two extra periods. Defense won the day as the game was tied 7-7 for most of three quarters. The two teams matched touchdowns in the first overtime before Travis Wilson connected with Kenneth Scott in the second OT to finally win the physical throwdown.
14. (12) UCLA 20, Texas 17
Sept. 13, Arlington
With Brett Hundley on the sideline, UCLA watched Texas’ Tyrone Swoopes lead the Longhorns to what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown with 5:13 left. Down 17-13 with three minutes left in the game, Jerry Neuheisel found Jordan Payton streaking down the sideline for a 33-yard touchdown pass in JerryWorld.
15. Washington St 28, Utah 27
Sept. 27, Salt Lake City
Connor Halliday threw for 267 of his 417 yards in the second half to overcome a 17-point second-half deficit. He finished off the comeback by connected with Vince Mayle for an 81-yard touchdown with less than five minutes left in the game. After starting the game up 21-0 at home, Utah lost the rest of the way 28-6.
The Best of the Rest:
16. (20) Utah 29, Oregon St 23 (2OT)
17. Cal 59, Colorado 56 (2OT)
18. (25) UCLA 40, Colorado 37 (2OT)
19. Cal 60, Washington St 59
20. Oregon St 35, (6) Arizona St 27
21. (22) UCLA 17, (12) Arizona 7
22. (14) Arizona St 24, Washington 10
23. Rutgers 41, Washington St 38
24. (6) Oregon 59, Cal 41
25. (11) UCLA 42, Memphis 35
26. UCLA 36, Cal 34
27. (12) Oregon 42, (18) UCLA 30
28. (4) Oregon 51, (17) Utah 27
29. (16) Stanford 20, Washington 13
30. Washington 59, Eastern Washington 52