Oregon Football: Could the Arizona Game Be a Preview of Pac-12 Championship?

Nathan LoweryCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2012

EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 15:  The Oregon Ducks run onto the field against of the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles on September 15, 2012 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

There's a reason why they call it the Wild West.

Each week the Pac-12 continues to get more and more interesting and Week 3 didn't disappoint with Stanford knocking off No. 2 USC, Oregon State upset No. 13 Wisconsin in Corvallis, Utah rebounded with a victory over No. 25 BYU, and all while Arizona and UCLA remain undefeated and in the Top 25.

UCLA sits at No. 19 while Arizona is three behind at No. 22 heading into Autzen this weekend.

With the depth we are now seeing in the South and how badly Stanford was able to exploit USC, could this weekend provide us with a preview of the Pac-12 Championship Game?

Oregon is expected to run the table in the North again, with only one real test coming when the Cardinal travel to Eugene and possibly a trip up I-5 to battle the Beavers in the Civil War.

In the South, things could be a lot messier. 

In my mind, four teams have a shot at taking the crown; Utah, UCLA, USC and finally Arizona.



After being upset by rival Utah State, and losing quarterback Jordan Wynn to both an injury and subsequent retirement from said injury, the Utes bounced back with a victory over BYU in the Holy War.

This team still is loaded with talent with John White IV and Star Lotulelei. John Hays is not a significant drop-off from Jordan Wynn and can still lead this team to a respectable season. 

Facing USC in Salt Lake City is going to aid this team. Away games at Washington and UCLA will not.



Hiring Noel Mazzone as offensive coordinator was one of the best offseason moves by any team. Naming Brett Hundley as the starting quarterback was an even smarter move.

Jonathan Franklin is the best "true running back" in the nation and give Jim Mora and Co. a guy that can pound the ball 20 times in a game, while also contributing in the passing game.

A win over Nebraska with a freshman quarterback is no joke, even if the Big Ten has been a laughing stock this season, and this team has the talent to win at least nine games this season.

Even with the depth issues at cornerback, the Bruins were able to contain the Houston Air Raid attack to only 249 yards passing and picked off the ball five times.

Case Keenum or no Case Keenum, that's an impressive feat.

UCLA is lucky that it gets to face the Trojans from the comfort of the Rose Bowl, which will hopefully set up the Bruins for a nice game against Stanford the following week.



While the loss to Stanford isn't the end of the world for the Trojans, it sure was eye-opening.

The issues on the line were on full display as Matt Barkley was pressured the entire night, leading to two interceptions and no touchdowns from the [former] Heisman hopeful.

On defense, Stepfan Taylor was unstoppable, rushing for 153 yards and a touchdown.

Taylor also added 60 yards and another score off of five receptions.

What worries me the most though? The way that Lane Kiffin handles the situation.

Although Chip Kelly may dodge questions at press conferences, at least he doesn't get up and walk out.

The passing game is talented enough to carry this team, but improvements on both sides of the line and in the running game have to be made if the Trojans want to have a shot at the Rose Bowl.



I'm going to upset a lot of Duck fans with this, but Matt Scott is playing just as good as Marcus Mariota, if not better.

Scott is leading a team with far less talent than Oregon and putting up similar stats to Mariota—both of whom are in their first year starting.

Mariota has completed 75.4 percent of his passes for 674 yards, eight touchdowns and an interception.

Scott, on the other hand, has 995 yards, seven touchdowns and only one interception while completing 71.5 percent of his passes.

Scott has also added 190 yards and two scores on the ground, compared to Mariota's 108 yards.

Both have been playing great football lately, but I have to give the edge to Scott here. He's put up better stats and led his team to a win over Oklahoma State.

The Wildcats have two tough road tests against UCLA and Utah, but benefit from home games against USC, Washington and get the luxury of taking on in-state rival Arizona State in Tucson.

Ever since Matt Barkley announced that he was returning for his senior season, the fans and media have been talking about a Pac-12 Championship Game with Oregon and USC vying for a Rose Bowl bid and possibly more, but with the way the season has been playing out so far, don't be surprised if another team is in the mix.


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