It was a wild week of football for the Pac-12 conference, which saw its lone national title contender fall at home. The loss by Oregon makes things quite interesting in the conference with one week of league play remaining for most squads.
Stanford is now in the driver’s seat to represent the Pac-12 North in the championship game, but has a very tough matchup ahead in UCLA
The Bruins’ victory over the Trojans may have represented a changing of the guard in the Los Angeles area, but UCLA has another hurdle to climb this week in Stanford.
With one week of intriguing football remaining in the conference, here is how the league breaks down.
With it’s surprising road victory over the Ducks, the Cardinal sent a message to the rest of the nation that it is still a player on the national scene despite losing head coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Anderew Luck to the NFL in consecutive seasons. The Cardinal now must defeat UCLA this weekend to assure itself of a spot in the conference championship game, where it would play the Bruins once again.
This program has been a complete success in Jim Mora’s first year on the Bruins’ sidelines. The team has already sewn up a spot in the Pac-12 championship game with its victory this past weekend over USC. The win over the Trojans was convincing and possibly a turning point for each program. If the Bruins can finish the job by winning the conference title, Mora’s first season will go down as one of the best debut campaigns in school history.
The Ducks blew a shot at a national championship again, this time falling to Stanford on its home field. The Ducks' normally dynamic offense was stunted for most of the contest and the Stanford defense kept UO’s attack uncomfortable for all four quarters. Oregon still has a shot at the Pac-12 crown, but it must beat rival Oregon State and hope that UCLA takes care of Stanford.
4. Oregon State
The Beavers manhandled Cal on Saturday and are in good position to earn an invite to a very respectable bowl game. This weekend’s rivalry affair with Oregon not only presents an opportunity for the Beavers to eliminate the Ducks from Rose Bowl contention, but it would cap a great season for one of the nation’s biggest surprises.
Rich Rodriguez’s first season at UA will be considered a remarkable success if the Wildcats can defeat rival Arizona State on Friday. He has coached a young offense led by a senior quarterback to an impressive season while somehow producing more wins than losses with a patchwork defensive unit.
The Huskies are likely to end the regular season with a victory over Washington State this weekend. UW had a pretty rough first half of the season, but its play down the stretch positioned the squad for a solid ending. Washington will now probably end the regular season with an 8-4 record and an appearance in a solid bowl game.
The Trojans started the season as the preseason number one team nationally, but will likely end the 2012 campaign unranked. The Trojans can salvage the season a bit with an upset over Notre Dame to end the season, but that outcome is unlikely with Matt Barkley out.
8. Arizona State
The Sun Devils have been up and down this season and were fortunate to play several teams who were without their starting quarterbacks. Anything can happen in a rivalry game, however, and ASU’s offense certainly possesses enough weapons to punish UA’s suspect defense. The Wildcats just may be too strong offensively, but if Arizona State can pull off the victory on the road, Todd Graham’s first campaign will be considered a success.
The Utes were considered a conference contender until Jordan Wynn fell to injury. Now with their seventh loss of the season coming at the hands of Arizona this past weekend, Utah will miss a bowl game for the first time in nine years.
There isn’t too much to say about the Golden Bears disappointing 2012 season. Cal’s season is over at 3-9, but did anyone really notice?
The Buffaloes remain out of last by default as Washington State is winless in conference play. It’s been a bad season for Colorado, who has plenty of questions surrounding the program going forward.
12. Washington State
The Cougars have one last shot to pickup a conference win this Saturday against rival Washington, but given how the Huskies are playing, it’s likely that Mike Leach will go winless in his first year in the Pac-12.