Most of the focus in the Pac-12 has been on Stanford and Oregon this season, but an interesting development occurred last Saturday night at the Rose Bowl. While most of the college football world was watching Alabama-LSU, UCLA was pulling off a surprising upset over Arizona State. The Sun Devils looked to be running away with the South division, with USC being ineligible to play in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game. On October 20 at Arizona, the Bruins lost to the Wildcats, 48-12, and dropped to 3-4 on the season. The only conversation involving UCLA football was the job status of coach Rick Neuheisel. However with wins over California and Arizona State, UCLA now controls its fate in the division.
Who wins the Pac-12 South?
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
We’ve got to give UCLA credit for making this very interesting, but I’m still going with Arizona State as the team to represent the South in the first-ever Pac-12 Championship Game. The Sun Devils could have all but wrapped up the title with a win at UCLA last weekend, but that, of course, didn’t work out. Now, the two teams are tied — as is USC, but the Trojans are ineligible. Arizona State has the much kinder schedule — at Washington State (which has lost five straight) and home vs. Arizona and California. UCLA, on the other hand, has two of its three remaining games on the road, including trips to Utah (winners of three of its past four games) and rival USC. Rick Neuheisel might have saved his job with this late-season hot streak, but it won’t be enough to get his team to the Pac-12 title game.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
It’s a shame USC isn’t ineligible for the South title this year. Even though they lost to Arizona State earlier this year, I think the Trojans are the better team right now. However, with USC out of the picture, I have to go with the Sun Devils. Despite last week’s inexplicable loss to UCLA, Arizona State still has a great chance to make the Pac-12 title game. The Sun Devils need a loss by the Bruins – which is very likely with games at Utah and USC remaining – and to win their final three games – at Washington State, Arizona and California. Despite UCLA’s upset win last week, I still think it will lose one of the last three games, while Arizona State wins out and finishes 9-3. No matter who wins the South Division, the champion of the North is going to be a heavy favorite in the first Pac-12 title game.
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
It is a travesty that the best team in the South will not get a chance to play in the Pac-12 title game. But that is a story for another day. The UCLA Bruins control their own destiny, but will not beat the aforementioned USC Trojans in the season finale on November 26. UCLA has lost four straight to the Men of Troy and 11 of the last 12. Rick Neuheisel is 0-3 against USC and has scored 28 total points in those three games. And don't tell Slick Rick about the last time UCLA visited Utah (which they will do this weekend). That resulted in a 44-6 beatdown in 2007. Arizona State, however, finishes with three games in which it will be favored: at Washington State, Arizona and Cal. I will take the Sun Devils to reach to the first-ever Pac-12 title game.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I like the UCLA story and wanted to pick the Bruins, but the remaining schedule looks too tough for Rick Neuheisel’s bunch to win the division. If UCLA can win this Saturday’s game at Utah, then I like Bruins chances because Arizona State has been so inconsistent. However, the Bruins running back duo of Derrick Coleman and Johnathan Franklin will find a major challenge in penetrating a Utes defense that ranks 10th in the nation against the run. Meanwhile, Utah runner John White has been excellent lately and goes against a UCLA defense that is 86th in the country versus the run. If the Bruins can find a way to get a rare road win, I see UCLA and Arizona State finishing with three league losses and the tiebreaker going to Westwood. However, I will predict that UCLA’s road woes continue and the Sun Devils win the division.