Pac-12 Football Championship Game scenarios: UCLA, USC, Stanford control their own destinies
Another wild and crazy Pac-12 football weekend is in the books, and nothing is decided with respect to which teams will be playing in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game. Here's the latest on what each of the five teams still with a pulse have to do to get to Santa Clara:
What a heartbreaker for Nerd Nation. The Cardinal had a chance to tie with a two-point conversion in the waning moments, but Oregon linebacker Joe Walker sealed the deal for the Ducks with a major-league pass break-up to give Oregon a 38-36 win on The Farm. Not all is lost for the 8-2, 7-1 Cardinal, however. While your team probably isn’t going to the College Football Playoff, Stanford fan, the Farm Boys still control their own destiny in the Pac-12 North. A win against rival Cal next Saturday would clinch a spot in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game on Dec. 5. If the Cardinal loses that game, then it will need Oregon to lose to either USC or Oregon State to head to Levi’s.
A performance like Saturday night makes you wonder what might have been for the 2015 Oregon Ducks had Vernon Adams been healthy all season. Adams was nearly flawless, averaging 17.1 yards per attempt on 12 throws (10-12, 205 yards, two touchdowns). He also got some big-time help from the backfield as Charles Nelson ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run and Rolls Royce piled up 105 yards to help the Ducks to a two-point triumph over Stanford. Despite the win, Oregon (7-3 overall, 5-2 in the Pac-12) still needs Stanford to lose the Big Game and the Ducks must beat USC and Oregon State at home to get to Santa Clara for a second consecutive season. At the very least the Ducks should be ranked when the AP poll comes out Sunday.
Great win for the Cougs on Saturday night, taking down UCLA 31-27 on the road thanks to some more late-game heroics from Luke Falk. The win ensures the Cougs (7-3 overall, 5-2 in the Pac-12) a winning season for the first time since 2003, but their Pac-12 Football Championship Game prospects are exhausted. Yes, Wazzu can end up in a three-way tie with Oregon and Stanford at 7-2 in the Pac-12 North. And yes, they all beat each other. But the next tiebreaker down the line for multi-team ties is record in intradivisional games. In this case of a three-way tie, both Stanford and Wazzu would be 3-2 against the Pac-12 North, while Oregon would be 4-1, with its other loss coming to Pac-12 South Utah. Thus, Oregon would get the tiebreaker. It's been a great year, Washington State supporter, but a bowl game will have to do.
Tough result to take in Tucson for Utah. Three teams ahead of them in the CFP rankings lost, and the Utes had a golden opportunity to put themselves into prime playoff position with a win at Arizona and two home games remaining. Unfortunately for Kyle Whittingham and Co. that didn’t happen, as the Wildcats won a 37-30 double-overtime thriller to gain bowl eligibility. Utah now stands at 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-12. And with a loss to USC eariler this year, Utah needs a Trojans loss to Oregon or UCLA to regain control in the South. The good news is that those aren’t easy games for the Trojans, while Utah closes out at home against UCLA and Colorado.
[Related: Latest Pac-12 football standings]
Cool. Hand. Luke. The Washington State gunslinger rescued the Cougars yet again in a 31-27 triumph in the Rose Bowl, but the Bruins still control their own destiny. Even though the Bruins (7-3 overall, 4-3 in the Pac-12) have three conference losses, they play their final two games against the two teams they trail by one game to close out the season: Utah and USC. Think that crosstown rivalry showdown will have any say in the Pac-12 South?
Well how many people had USC being able to control its own destiny in mid-November when the Trojans were 3-3? Thanks to Utah’s loss and their own come-from-behind 27-24 win in Colorado on Friday, USC (7-3 overall, 5-2 in the Pac-12) “just” needs to win at Oregon and to defeat UCLA at home in the Coliseum to ensure its ticket to Santa Clara. I’m sure Clay Helton has a fruit basket addressed to RichRod after Saturday night’s #Pac12AfterDark madness in Tucson. USC is now 4-1 under the interim head coach – visions of 2013, anyone?