Pac-12 Football Championship Game standings update: Stanford can clinch North; Utah controls South
The picture is a little clearer than last week as we inch towards the Pac-12 Football Championship Game on Dec. 5, so let’s take a look at the contenders in each division and their path to Levi’s Stadium.
No. 11 Stanford
David Shaw and Co. could breathe a little easier in the roadie this weekend, soundly defeating Colorado 42-10 in Boulder a week after needing a missed field goal to escape the Palouse. Kevin Hogan continued to make excellent throws, and Christian McCaffrey continued to pile on all-purpose yards like they’re going out of style. As a result, Stanford (8-1, 7-0 Pac-12 North) can clinch a spot in Santa Clara with a win in one of its final two Pac-12 games – Oregon and Cal, both at home – or get one more loss from the Ducks. A win on Nov. 14 for the Cardinal against those Ducks kills two birds with one stone.
The Cardinal could have clinched the North Saturday night if its Bay Area rivals did it a favor and took care of Oregon in Eugene, but those pesky Ducks refuse to go away. Oregon (6-3, 4-2 Pac-12 North) set a program record by piling up 777 yards of offense against Cal in a commanding 44-28 win over the Golden Bears, sending Sonny Dykes’ bunch to a fourth consecutive loss in the process. The Saturday night triumph sets up a huge showdown – as always – between the Ducks and Cardinal next weekend. A win in Palo Alto wouldn’t give the Ducks control of the North – Stanford would still need to lose to Cal – but it would keep them alive for another week. Oregon, the only other team still mathematically alive in the Pac-12 North, needs to win out to have a chance.
The Cougars rallied for a nice 38-24 victory Saturday over Arizona State in front of a rowdy Martin Stadium crowd. And while the win made Washington State eligible to go bowling for the second time in Mike Leach's time on the Palouse, the Cougs will not be heading down to Santa Clara for the Pac-12 Football Championship Game next month. Stanford's win in Boulder officially made the Pac-12 North a two-team race between the Cardinal and Ducks. Although WSU won't have a chance at the Pac-12 title this year, Falk and Co. have opened some eyes with a more balanced offensive attack that's making them a tough opponent for anyone in the conference.
No. 12 Utah
The Utes (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12 South) beat Washington for the first time in program history with a solid 34-23 win on Montlake Saturday night and, as a result, still have control of their own destiny in the South. Next week’s game against a frustrated Arizona team will be tricky, but if it can navigate the cacti in Tucson, the Utes finish with two home games against UCLA (how ‘bout that for an important late-November battle) and Colorado. Utah, which was one win away from going to the Pac-12 Football Championship Game in 2011, is still one game ahead of the SoCal schools and thus in the driver’s seat in the South.
[Related: Latest Pac-12 football standings]
No. 23 UCLA
After a scoreless first quarter, the Bruins (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12 South) burst away from Oregon State to the tune of a 41-0 beatdown in Corvallis. It was another un-true-freshman like performance for Josh Rosen, who completed two-thirds of his passes for 333 yards and two scores in a hostile environment. Although the Bruins are still trailing Utah in the standings, they also have control of their own destiny. Should the Bruins get past Washington State, they will roll into the SLC with everything up for grabs.
Don’t forget about ole’ SC. The Trojans (6-3, 4-2 Pac-12 South) erased an early 14-0 hole in its 38-30 defeat of Arizona, getting a gritty 138 receiving yards from JuJu Smith-Schuster, who only played with a plate and screw surgically implanted into the palm of his broken hand five days before kickoff. USC doesn’t control its own destiny but is still alive in the Pac-12 South race. For the next two weeks, USC will be major-league supporters of Arizona and UCLA (tough, I know) to hand Utah at least a second loss. The Trojans own the tiebreaker with the Utes after beating them 42-24 a couple of weeks back, so they just need the Utes to slip up once more to control its own destiny
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