This week was an anti-climatic one for the conference title race, as there was plenty of chalk, outside of Arizona State beating Stanford as a slight home dog. What’s it mean for the Pac-12 South Standings?
Not much, as there’s little change from a week ago. With a 56-28 win over Colorado, USC stays sitting atop the division, but it’s only on percentage points due to having played one more game than ASU, who sits ahead of Arizona for the same reason.
UCLA is the only contender with a pair of losses, and Utah’s win over Oregon State keeps them in fourth, though their schedule leaves their ceiling far above that.
Here’s a look at the Pac-12 South standings and how each team fares in the hunt to get to the Pac-12 Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium.
How will they make it?
USC: Beating Colorado should have been a formality for the Trojans. And it was, as the 56-28 final score doesn’t indicate the level of control that the Trojans had on the game. But the biggest story of the week for USC’s postseason hopes is that they got absolutely zero help, despite a schedule that appeared to offer the possibility of some shakeup. UCLA outlasted Cal, Utah beat Oregon State in OT and Arizona State modestly disassembled Stanford. So far at least another week, the Trojans don’t have the opportunity of controlling their own destiny. Next Saturday against Utah is arguably the season for the Trojans, as a win there puts USC in the proverbial drivers seat for the South, though it would be smoke and mirrors, at least until ASU loses. The Trojans need the Sun Devils to lose at least one conference game or it won’t matter how well USC plays to finish the season.Tiebreakers held: Arizona, Colorado
Arizona State: Three weeks in row, ASU is the big winner in the South. First they beat USC on a Hail Mary while UCLA lost to Utah. Then UCLA lost again while the Devils were on a bye week, allowing Todd Graham’s team to control their own destiny. Now it gets a little bit better, as a week ago it seemed that Stanford may be their toughest test remaining Pac-12 opponent on a daunting schedule. ASU gets a tough trip to Seattle this week to face Washington in a bounce-back spot following their blowout loss to Oregon, which won’t be easy. But for a team with two wins on the bounce against USC and Stanford, they have all of the confidence in the world right now.Tiebreakers held: USC, Colorado
Arizona: The Cats were off this week and got nothing to show for it. The four teams they’re feuding with for the South all won. Arizona needs USC to lose at some point and don’t play the rest of the Pac-12 South until November. And here comes possibly the most telling week of the year for Arizona: at Washington State. They’ll be favored, but Cats are coming off of a loss, Pullman is a difficult place to play in late October and WSU beat Arizona last year on a Connor Halliday touchdown pass with two minutes left. They need a bounce back win going into a November loaded with tough Pac-12 South games.Tiebreakers held: None
Utah: The Utes struggled with Oregon State and arguably should have lost in Corvallis, despite winning in overtime. But alas, here they are. Utah sports a 5-1 overall record, a ranking in the polls and a 2-1 conference mark that stands as their first ever winning record since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. Now starts the second half schedule from hell, as the Utes play USC, ASU, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona on five successive weeks. They control their own destiny following a win over UCLA, but that’s an awful stretch of games. Though there is this little caveat: the Utes can lose to Oregon (or Stanford) and still win the South while controlling their own destiny. In order for that to happen, Utah would have to finish with a 7-2 conference record. That would given them tiebreakers over everybody in the South, and since everyone in the South already has a loss, no one would be able to catch the Utes. It starts with beating SC in a gigantic home game, which is a tall task in itself.Tiebreakers held: UCLA
UCLA: The importance of beating Cal cannot be understated for the Bruins. Even though they’re one Utah loss away from controlling their own destiny, UCLA has a murderer’s row of a schedule coming up that drastically reduces their chances of winning out. A loss in Berkeley would have been catastrophic, given a November that features four very losable games: Arizona, at Washington, USC and Stanford. In an optimistically realistic situation for the Bruins, say UCLA goes 3-1 in November. That makes for a 6-3 conference record, assuming Colorado is a lock of a win next week. That could be enough to win the South, if and only if UCLA’s third loss is to Washington or Stanford out of the North, but they would still need plenty to fall their way despite holding a bunch of tiebreakers. The Trojans are likely UCLA’s biggest threat right now, given how soft USC’s remaining schedule is compared to everyone else’s. Quite simply, to avoid any potential tiebreaker fiascos, Jim Mora and company need to win out and wait for Utah to lose.Tiebreakers held: Arizona State
Colorado: Skiing season begins on November 27th.
More from Reign of Troy
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- USC football adds Xavion Alford as transfer from Texas
- USC Podcast: RoT Radio Ep. 396 on the Football Season’s Fallout
- Talanoa Hufanga named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, USC football with five first-teamers