Remembering the Best Season of the 2010s for Every Pac-12 North School

by Mike Ferguson

Photo courtesy of Oregon athletics

The National Championship on Jan. 12 officially wrapped up the decade of the 2010s in college football.

The decade saw the sport undergo numerous conference changes and switch from the BCS formula to the College Football Playoff. There were schools who had dominating runs and others who left much to be desired.

Out west, the decade saw the Pac-10 add Utah and Colorado to become the Pac-12. That’s been the case since 2011.

Although no Pac-12 team won the national championship last decade, one team from the North division played for it twice. Here’s a look at the best season from last decade for each team in the Pac-12 North:

California (2019)

Record: 8-5, defeated Illinois in Redbox Bowl, 35-20
Final Ranking: None
Key Players: Christopher Brown Jr., RB; Evan Weaver, LB; Ashtyn Davis, S
Overview: California didn’t have a winning record in Pac-12 play at all during the 2010s, but did go 8-5 overall twice. The 2019 season gets the nod as the Golden Bears knocked off a top-15 Washington team and scored a nice non-conference road win at Ole Miss. California closed the season on a 3-game winning streak, beginning with its first win over arch-rival Stanford in 10 years.

Oregon (2010)

Record: 12-1, Pac-10 champions, lost to Auburn in BCS National Championship, 22-19
Final Ranking: No. 3 AP; No. 3 Coaches
Key Players: LaMichael James, RB; Jeff Maehl, WR; Casey Matthews, LB
Overview: The 2010 season for Oregon under head coach Chip Kelly ended in heartbreaking fashion as Auburn’s Wes Byrum made a short field goal to give the Tigers a 22-19 win for the national championship. That would be Oregon’s lone blemish of the season. A 15-13 win over California was the only contest decided by fewer than 11 points to that point. The Ducks led the nation in both total and scoring offense that season.

Oregon State (2012)

Record: 9-4, lost to Texas in Alamo Bowl, 31-27
Final Ranking: No. 20 AP; No. 19 Coaches
Key Players: Markus Wheaton, WR; Scott Crichton, DE; Jordan Poyer, S
Overview: Oregon State closed the 2010s with seven straight losing seasons, but the Beavers were close to a 10-win season in 2012. The top-20 finish would be the only ranked finish for Oregon State throughout the decade. The Beavers opened the season with consecutive wins over top-20 teams in Wisconsin and UCLA.

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Stanford (2010)

Record: 12-1, defeated Virginia Tech in Orange Bowl, 40-12
Final Ranking: No. 4 AP; No. 4 Coaches
Key Players: Andrew Luck, QB; Jonathan Martin, T; Delano Howell, S
Overview: Stanford won the Pac-12 twice during the 2010s, but the best season for the Cardinal was the final one under Jim Harbaugh. During the 2010 season, the lone blemish for Stanford was a road loss to national runner-up Oregon. The Cardinal blasted ACC champion Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl to close the season and earn their highest national ranking since 1940.

Washington (2016)

Record: 12-2, Pac-12 champions, lost to Alabama in Peach Bowl, 24-7
Final Ranking: No. 4 AP; No. 4 Coaches
Key Players: Jake Browning, QB; Myles Gaskin, RB; Budda Baker, S
Overview: The last team from the Pac-12 to make the College Football Playoff, Washington defeated four ranked teams in 2016 and blasted Colorado for the Pac-12 title. Although the Huskies fell to Alabama in the Peach Bowl, they tied a program record for wins and earned their first top-5 finish since 2000.

Washington State (2018)

Record: 11-2, beat Iowa State in Alamo Bowl, 28-26
Final Ranking: No. 10 AP; No. 10 Coaches
Key Players: Gardner Minshew II, QB; Andre Dillard, T; Logan Tago, DE
Overview: Washington State lost to Washington in an Apple Cup that determined the Pac-12 North in 2018, but the Cougars enjoyed their first 10-win season and first top-10 finish since 2003. Washington State knocked off three ranked teams during the course of the season and held off Iowa State in a thrilling Holiday Bowl. In head coach Mike Leach’s air raid offense, the Cougars led the nation in passing offense.


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Mike Ferguson is the associate editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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