4 Games That Will Determine the Pac-12 Champion
The Pac-12 Championship Game will include the best team from both the North Division and the South Division.
At this point, neither race is close to being finished. We do know that Oregon or Stanford will likely represent the North Division in the title game. As for the South Division, it's completely up in the air at this point. Any of four teams (UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State) could represent the division in the title game.
There's still lots of football to be played, and a few conference games will go a long way in determining the eventual participants in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Here are four games that will help to determine the Pac-12 champion.
November 7: Oregon at Stanford
The matchup between No. 2 Oregon and No. 6 Stanford will essentially determine the Pac-12 North Division winner.
Stanford has one loss in conference play, which came against Utah. The Ducks are currently undefeated at this point in the season. Should the Cardinal win tonight and go undefeated for the remainder of conference play, they will represent the North Division in the conference title game.
This matchup tonight, Nov. 7, could be the best regular-season game all season long in college football. Oregon's high-flying offense will be tested against a physical, veteran group on the road. Stanford has traditionally given the Ducks some trouble with its size up front.
It will be fascinating to see how quarterback Marcus Mariota fares against perhaps the best defense he's faced all season long. Dually, the play of Stanford's signal-caller Kevin Hogan will be paramount. Stanford can run the ball effectively, but the passing attack needs to be functioning at a high level if the Cardinal are to win.
November 23: Arizona State at UCLA
Much like the first game mentioned, this contest between the Sun Devils and the Bruins could determine the champion of the Pac-12 South Division.
Arizona State is currently atop the South Division. UCLA has two conference losses, but both came against Pac-12 North foes (Stanford, Oregon). Should UCLA beat Arizona State and win its final four games, it will win the division for the third straight year.
The last two games between both teams have been extremely close. UCLA has won both, and the two contests have been decided by a combined three points.
Each team figures to be relatively even from a talent standpoint. With UCLA playing this game at home, it could help to give the Bruins an advantage.
November 29: Oregon State at Oregon
Anything can happen in a rivalry game, especially in one dubbed as the "Civil War."
The respective fanbases of Eugene and Corvallis hate one another. In this regular-season finale, Oregon figures to be at worst in the hunt for the Rose Bowl and could conceivably be in the race for the National Championship Game.
The Beavers would love nothing more than to pull the upset and effectively muck up the prospects of Oregon's season. The Ducks are undoubtedly going to be favored in this contest. Oregon State's average defense and porous rush attack doesn't help matters much.
However, the combination of Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks is one of the most potent combinations in all of the country. Mike Riley's group could make things very interesting on Nov. 29.
November 30: UCLA at USC
Speaking of rivalry games, there might not be a more heated rivalry than between UCLA and USC.
If one is a native of the greater Los Angeles area, there's usually some sort of allegiance to one of the universities. The Bruins will likely be favored heading into this game. UCLA is a deeper and more talented team at this point.
However, Ed Orgeron has ignited a spark in the USC program since taking the helm as the interim coach. USC will undoubtedly like to atone for last year's loss at the Rose Bowl.
It's also conceivable to believe that this game could determine the winner in the Pac-12 South Division. If the Bruins can get past Arizona State, Jim Mora's bunch is likely in a good position to win the division. USC is still also alive in the division race, but it will have to win out and not lose another conference game. That might be a tall proposition, considering that the Trojans still have to face Stanford.
The Trojans could end up playing the role of a spoiler in this game against their crosstown foe. When was the last time that happened?