Pac-12 South standings and 2017 championship game forecast: Week 10

Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images /

Is it too early for a Pac-12 South Championship Game? We’ll see. But USC and Arizona will do their best to make it so at the Coliseum this week.

The biggest Pac-12 South game of the year will go down Saturday night at the Coliseum, when USC hosts Arizona.

It’s not only a matchup of sensational quarterbacks, pitting Sam Darnold against Khalil Tate, but both teams have just one conference loss to date. The winner will be placed firmly in the driver’s seat to get to Santa Clara for the Pac-12 Championship Game.

But let’s look at how the Pac-12 South shapes up as a whole after Week 9 and going into Week 10…

Pac-12 South Standings (as of 10/28)

  1. USC (5-1)
  2. Arizona (4-1)
  3. Arizona State (3-2)
  4. UCLA (2-3)
  5. Colorado (2-4)
  6. Utah (1-4)

How will they make it to the Pac-12 Championship Game?

USC (5-1)

Tiebreakers held: Utah, Arizona StateTo win the South: Win outWeek 9: Beat ASU, 48-17Week 10: vs. Arizona

It’s simple for the Trojans: just win the next two games and the Pac-12 South is a wrap without needing any help and before the finale against UCLA. But Saturday’s win over Arizona State gives USC some significant leeway. Most importantly, even if they lose this week and finish in a three-way tie at 7-2 with ASU and Arizona, the Trojans will win the division based on their intra-division record. In such a scenario, both USC and the Sun Devils would sit at 4-1 against South opponents, while Arizona’s 3-2 record would eliminate them. At that point, the 48-17 boat race in Tempe would be the deciding factor in punching a ticket to Santa Clara.

Arizona (4-1)

Tiebreakers held: Colorado, UCLATo win the South: Win outWeek 9: Beat Washington State, 58-37Week 10: at USC

The Wildcats may have the division’s best player in Khalil Tate, and a win in the Coliseum would put them in prime position to take their first South crown since 2014. However, a loss would be devastating for their hopes. Arizona would then need USC to lose their remaining two games to Colorado and UCLA to have any chance of winning the division. With a loss this week, the Cats wouldn’t be able to win a 7-2 tie with USC, nor any 7-2 tie involving their rivals, Arizona State. 

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Arizona State (3-2)

Tiebreakers held: UtahTo win the South: Win out, have USC lose twiceWeek 9: Lost vs. USC, 48-17Week 10: vs. Colorado

Just how damaging was ASU’s embarrassing loss to USC on Saturday? They now need the Trojans to lose two of their final three games to have any slimmer of a chance to win the division, despite a fairly straightforward November that plays into their favor. The Sun Devils’ hope relies on winning a 7-2 tie with Arizona where the Territorial Cup would decide the South, or a scenario in which both USC and Arizona collapse and finish with three losses apiece.

UCLA (2-3)

Tiebreakers held: ColoradoTo win the South:  Win out, force tie at 6-3Week 9: Lost at Washington, 44-23Week 10: at Utah

The Bruins looked abysmal on Saturday in Seattle, and have lost eight-straight road games with trips to Rice-Eccles and the Coliseum still on the docket. Based on that, it’d be shocking if they produced an undefeated November. However, the good news for UCLA is that schedule sets up in a way to give them a chance, as slim as it may be. Should they win out and get the help to finish in a 6-3 tie in first place, they will win the Pac-12 South. A knot between just UCLA and USC sides with the Bruins, because they would own the head-to-head tiebreaker. If it’s USC, Arizona and UCLA, then their 4-1 intra-division record would take the cake.

Colorado (2-4)

Tiebreakers held: n/aTo win the South: Win out, force tie at 5-4Week 9: Win vs. Cal, 44-28Week 10: at Arizona State

The Buffaloes’ chances of winning the Pac-12 South are all-but-zero, which can end with any of the following: a loss of their own, a USC win or an Arizona win against anyone other than USC. But if it’s any consolation, Steven Montez re-emerged as Colorado’s outright starting quarterback after posting a 227.11 passer rating against Cal.

Utah (1-4)

Tiebreakers held: ArizonaTo win the South: Win out, force tie at 5-4Week 9: Lost vs. ASU, 30-10Week 10: vs. UCLA

Things went from bad to worse for the Utes on Saturday, after getting housed by an Oregon team with a third-string quarterback. Utah now has four conference losses, including two to teams ahead of them —USC and Arizona State– which does everything but eliminate them from Pac-12 South contention. Their only prayer? The same exact scenario as Colorado’s: a three-way tie with USC and Arizona at 5-4. The Utes’ 3-2 record against South opponents would win the second tiebreak, while the Trojans and Wildcats would finish at 2-3. It’s not happening.