PHOENIX – Arizona State's surprising loss to Oregon State last weekend not only knocked the Sun Devils out of the College Football Playoff picture, it left the Pac-12 South in a massive jumble.
Following Arizona State's 35-27 loss to the Beavers on Saturday night, five teams are still in the hunt for the South with two weeks left in the regular season. Colorado, at 0-7 in conference, is the only team without a shot at the title.
So as we head into the final stretch of the regular season, here's a rundown of what it will take for UCLA, USC, Arizona State, Arizona or Utah to earn a spot against No. 3 Oregon in the Dec. 5 Pac-12 Championship game in the Bay Area:
UCLA. Meet the front-runner in this race. Win the next two games and the 11th-ranked Bruins are in the conference championship game. UCLA's road is not easy. The Bruins face rival USC this weekend and have to play Stanford in the season finale. The Cardinal are not the powerhouse they once were, but still present problems. UCLA beat Arizona, Arizona State and, at 5-2, has a one-game lead over Utah. The Bruins can still win the South with a loss to Stanford, but would need to beat USC and have Arizona, ASU and Utah each lose one more game.
USC: The 24th-ranked Trojans lead the South at 6-2 and have two games left, but just one against a Pac-12 opponent, with a non-conference game against Notre Dame closing out the regular season. The Trojans' chances of winning the South start with beating UCLA; lose that game, it's over. But even if USC beats UCLA, it will need Arizona State to lose one of its final two games. Because of their Hail Mary victory over the Trojans on Oct. 4, the Sun Devils would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage if the teams tied.
ARIZONA STATE: The 13th-ranked Sun Devils lost their grip on the Pac-12 South by losing a game they were expected to win. They're hoping to avoid that fate again this week against Washington State. Get past that, Arizona State will still need to beat rival Arizona — no easy task — and get some help. That help will be in Southern California, where the Sun Devils will be keeping a watchful eye on that USC-UCLA game. ASU could still take the title if it loses to Washington State, but would need to beat Arizona, have Utah win its last two games, UCLA to beat USC and Stanford to beat the Bruins. Beating Washington State would be much easier on them, to say the least.
ARIZONA: The Wildcats are tied with Arizona State and UCLA at 5-2, but will need to win their final two games and get some help. No. 15 Arizona faces Utah this weekend and has Arizona State at home in the regular-season finale. Win those two and the Wildcats will still need help after losing to USC and UCLA in a span of three games. To win the title, Arizona will need UCLA to beat USC, but then lose to Stanford. That scenario would put Arizona at 7-2 in conference, while the best the other teams could manage would be 6-3.
UTAH: Like Arizona, the 4-3 Utes are in win-and-get-help mode. If Utah loses one of its final two games, against Arizona and Colorado, all bets are off. Even if they win both, the Utes will need the dice to fall just right to take the title. What Utah needs is for the South to end in a five-way tie at 6-3, which, after a series of tiebreakers, would drop the title in the Utes' hands. For that to happen, UCLA must beat USC, Stanford must beat the Bruins and Arizona has to knock off Arizona State. A longshot, sure, but in a conference with so many close games and wild finishes, don't count the Utes out just yet.