Here's what Arizona needs to win the Pac-12 South

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State is the only team with total control

The Pac-12 South race gained only a bit more clarity for the idle Arizona Wildcats on Saturday, although it helped that Cal upset USC 15-14.

Utah, which beat Oregon 32-25 on Saturday without starting quarterback Tyler Huntley and standout running back Zack Moss (both out for the season because of injuries), leads the way at 5-3, but it is Arizona State that retained its status as the only team to control its destiny in the South.

The Sun Devils, who held off visiting UCLA 31-28 on Saturday afternoon, are tied with the Wildcats second at 4-3 in the Pac-12. USC is 4-4.

Arizona State, with a 38-20 home win over Utah in its pocket, holds the potential tiebreaker it wins out.

Here's a look at what each of the top teams has left in the Pac-12


--at Colorado, Saturday

The Utes seem vulnerable because of their injuries, but the Buffs are reeling. Colorado is on a five-game losing streak, although star receiver Laviska Shenault did return from a toe injury in Saturday's 31-7 loss to Washington State.


--at Oregon, Saturday

--at Arizona, Nov. 24

The Sun Devils are only 1-3 on the road this season, but all the games were decided by a touchdown or less (losing to San Diego State, Washington and Colorado, and beating USC).

For what it's worth, the Ducks have been a much better at home this season. From an Arizona point of view, the ASU-Oregon game doesn't much matter because the Wildcats can take care of that business a week later.


--at Washington State, Saturday

--vs. ASU, Nov. 24

So, Arizona needs to win out (of course) and have Utah lose at Colorado. That would give the Wildcats sole possession of first place, which it needs because it would lose a tiebreaker with the Utes, which won the head-to-head meeting 42-10 in Salt Lake City on Oct. 12.

You might note that if certain results happen -- including USC beating UCLA -- that there could be a spectacular train wreck with all four teams tied at 5-4. What happens then?

In the 5-4 scenario, let's take the best-case option for Arizona -- it loses to Washington State but beats Arizona State. Even that isn't good enough for the Wildcats.

If three are more teams are tied for a Pac-12 division lead, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head results among the tied teams, and those results are used to eliminate teams until only two remain. Here's how that would look:

Arizona State 2-1

Utah 2-1

Arizona 1-2

USC 1-2

Arizona and USC would be eliminated, and Arizona State comes out on top because of its win over the Utes.

With its losses to Utah and USC, no tiebreaker comes out in Arizona's favor.

To recap: the Wildcats need an outright division win, which means: 1) Win at No. 8 Washington State (gulp); 2) Have Colorado snap a five-game skid (hard to trust the Buffs); 3) Beat rival Arizona State (in the Territorial Cup, anything goes).


Anthony Gimino
EditorAnthony Gimino
Anthony Gimino
EditorAnthony Gimino
Anthony Gimino
EditorAnthony Gimino
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Brad Allis
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