The regular season is beginning to wind down and the Pac-12 race is getting a little clearer with each passing week. There isn’t much movement in the rankings in this edition, but the final couple of weeks should be very intriguing with several important contests still remaining. With another week in the books, this is how the conference breaks down.
The Ducks maintain the top spot after manhandling Cal this past weekend. With Alabama’s loss, it would seem that Oregon controls its own destiny and will reach the BCS Championship game if it wins out and comes away victorious in the Pac-12 title game.
UO’s offense continues to appear unstoppable and, at this point, it would be shocking if the Ducks didn’t win out, even with contests against Stanford and Oregon State remaining.
After pulling off a victory over Washington State in a surprisingly close outcome, the Bruins retain the number two spot in the Pac-12. UCLA jumped out to a huge lead, but seemed to get a bit too comfortable down the stretch of the contest and the Cougars were able to close the gap. Fortunately, UCLA recovered the late onside kick and held on.
When the Bruins are focused and attacking, they are a very dangerous team, especially on the offensive side of the ball. It would be interesting to see their offense go up against Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game, considering the two squads are not scheduled to play this season.
After a hard-fought victory over Oregon State, the Cardinal still remain alive in the Pac-12 North race. Stanford proved to be the better team on Saturday and appears to be Oregon’s top challenger to win the north.
Whether Stanford can actually beat the Ducks or not is for a different argument, but Stanford has continuously found ways to win ball games this year and should provide Oregon with everything it can handle this weekend.
4. Oregon State
Losing to Stanford eliminates its Pac-12 title hopes. With two losses in the Pac-12, the Beavers must hope for both Stanford and Oregon to lose out, but that’s not a possibility since those two squads play each other Saturday. Despite the loss, Oregon State has had a very surprising (and impressive) season given all it has had to overcome and should be in line for a respectable bowl game.
UA took care of business this past weekend by clobbering Colorado. The game saw Wildcats’ sophomore running back Ka’Deem Carey break the Pac-12 single-game rushing record with 366 yards and put Arizona in the category of bowl eligible teams.
It’s been a solid season for Rich Rodriguez in his first year as UA head coach despite some hiccups along the way. Winning out certainly isn’t out of the question and doing so would generate plenty of confidence about the future of the Wildcats’ football program.
The Trojans were able to get back on their feet by beating Arizona State by 21 points, but have a tough finish to the season with this Saturday’s road matchup against rival UCLA, followed by a home matchup against a Notre Dame squad who has national title aspirations. USC could win both games, but each one could go against the Trojans’ favor as well.
The Huskies' victory over Utah was their third straight win and made them eligible for a bowl game. After struggling in the early part of the season, Washington has put itself in great position to end the campaign with five straight victories (eight overall) with the only two opponents left on the schedule being lowly Colorado and Washington State. A team that started off 3-4, UW could end the season ranked in the top 25.
8. Arizona State
A road loss at USC didn’t exactly surprise anyone, but the loss puts the Sun Devils in a difficult spot with two weeks remaining. They need just one victory to qualify for a bowl and that should come this weekend as they host Wazzu, but if ASU somehow trips over its own feet this Saturday and loses, the Territorial Cup becomes an even more important (not to mention tough) matchup.
After losing big to Washington, Utah must now find a way to win its final two games of the season to become bowl-eligible. That’s not completely out of the realm of possibility as the Utes have a home games against Arizona and Colorado, who can’t seem to beat anyone other than Washington State.
Utah hosts a Wildcats’ team this Saturday that is winless on the road this season, so while it will be tough for the Utes to win, it’s not out of the question. A victory would put Utah in great shape to pick up a sixth win with the Buffaloes the only team remaining on the Utes’ slate.
The Golden Bears didn’t put up much of a fight against Oregon and currently stand at 2-5 against the Pac-12 with their final two games coming against ranked opponents. If Cal cannot find a way to win one of those final two games, it will finish with its worst record in conference play since 2001, which happened to be Tom Holmoe’s final year as head coach.
It’s surprising that the Buffaloes beat anyone this year, even Washington State. CU faced an Arizona squad that was without its starting quarterback and still allowed a record-setting day to Carey, despite the obviousness of the Wildcats’ approach. Colorado has a lot of soul searching to do this offseason as it’s hard to imagine its football program getting much better in the coming years.
12. Washington State
The Cougars fought hard against UCLA this past weekend, but their comeback ultimately fell short as they remain winless in conference play. Wazzu has played much better football of late and its final two contests aren’t as intimidating as some of the other opponents the Cougars have recently battled. One win may not seem like a whole lot, but it will be a step in the right direction for a program still trying to find its way.