Pac-12 South standings and 2017 championship game forecast: Week 11

Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images /

Could the Pac-12 South’s representative in the Pac-12 Championship Game be decided this week? USC sure hopes so.

Last Saturday marked the biggest Pac-12 South game of the year, and in for the second time in as many weeks, USC came through. The Trojans beat Khalil Tate and the Arizona Wildcats, 49-35.

The victory was monumental in the Pac-12 South race, not only cementing Troy as the first place team for the time being, but it puts Clay Helton’s team on the cusp of clinching their second division title in three years.

With two games remaining, a one-game lead on each Arizona and ASU, plus all relevant tiebreakers in hand, a Trojan win in Boulder this weekend would punch their ticket to Santa Clara. Can they do it?

Let’s look at how the Pac-12 South shapes up as a whole after Week 10 and going into Week 11…

Pac-12 South Standings (as of 11/4)

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

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

USC (6-1)

Tiebreakers held: Utah, Arizona State, ArizonaTo win the South: Win once OR Arizonas each lose onceWeek 10: Beat Arizona, 49-35Week 11: at Colorado

Beating Arizona and Khalil Tate didn’t just make the Trojans the overwhelming leader in the Pac-12 South, it gives them what is essentially a magic number of one. All USC needs is one of the following: beat hapless Colorado this week or beat hapless UCLA next week. And even if they were to somehow falter twice, one Arizona loss and one Arizona State loss can fulfill the requirement for USC.

Arizona (4-2)

Tiebreakers held: Colorado, UCLATo win the South:  Win out, while USC loses outWeek 10: Lost at USC, 49-35Week 11: vs. Oregon State

Rich Rodriguez’s Arizona team is the best story in the Pac-12, especially given the rise of quarterback Khalil Tate. But since the Trojans are guaranteed to finish at least 6-3 –while holding all relevant tiebreakers– it’s going to be an uphill climb for the upstart Cats. They must finish 7-2, while needing USC to lose their remaining games. Such a scenario would require Wildcat wins at Oregon and at arch-rival ASU, neither of which will be easy. 

Arizona State (4-2)

Tiebreakers held: Utah, ColoradoTo win the South:  Win out, while USC loses outWeek 10: Beat Colorado, 41-30Week 11: at UCLA

The Sun Devils’ win over Colorado in Tempe kept them alive for another week despite USC’s dispatching of Arizona. It keeps the scenario pretty simple and identical to their rivals to the south: win their final three games —winnable tests at UCLA, at Oregon State and vs. Arizona— then pray the Trojans face-plant.

Utah (2-4)

Tiebreakers held: Arizona, UCLATo win the South: ELIMINATEDWeek 10: Beat UCLA, 48-17Week 11: vs. Washington State

The Utes finally got off the schneid with their first win since September on Friday night, when they blew the doors off UCLA. However, with USC beating Arizona the following night, Utah was officially eliminated from Pac-12 South contention.

UCLA (2-4)

Tiebreakers held: ColoradoTo win the South:  ELIMINATEDWeek 10: Lost at Utah, 48-17Week 11: vs. Arizona State

Not only are Bruins free falling down the Pac-12 South standings after back-to-back road losses, but they’ve lost quarterback Josh Rosen to injury and are now eliminated from any chance of winning the division.

Colorado (2-5)

Tiebreakers held: n/aTo win the South:  ELIMINATEDWeek 10: Lost at ASU, 41-30Week 11: vs. UCLA

Going into Week 10, Colorado was somehow still alive in the Pac-12 South race. But their loss to Arizona State, in which they blew a 10-point lead, ultimately did them in and prevents CU from repeating as division champs.