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Pac-12 Review: Oregon State casts Pac-12 South into chaos

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On the bright side: chaos is fun! On the dark side: UCLA or USC will probably take the Pac-12 South title

Steve Dykes

Avi and Pacific Takes has you covered for all of the tie-breaking scenarios - you've gotta love a division that has 5/6ths of the teams still alive with two weeks to go. But this spot cares only for one potential scenario: The Five Way Tie!

Currently ASU, Arizona, UCLA and USC all have two losses, while Utah sits a game back in the loss column with three. Thus, the only correct rooting options are as follows:

Washington State at Arizona State
Arizona at Utah
USC at UCLA
Stanford
at UCLA
Arizona St. at Arizona
Utah
at Colorado

Wait wait wait wait wait. The wonderful, hilarious, 5-way tie at 6-3 that sends Utah to Santa Clara requires us to root for Stanford to beat UCLA, thus ensuring bowl eligibility?! WHY MUST LIFE BE SO CRUEL?!

Fine, just root for USC to beat UCLA so that ASU can win out and take the Pac-12 title, thus denying an L.A. school a division title and Stanford their 6th win. Why does college football have to be so complicated?

Oregon State 35, Arizona State 27

Maybe the strangest part of this game was that it wasn't in any way a fluke. Oregon State outplayed ASU, and by a fairly wide margin. The Devils couldn't run the ball against a run defense that was shredded by Cal, and they couldn't pass the ball on a pass defense that was shredded by Washington State.

And a week after creating a ton of positive plays by blitzing all over Notre Dame, a similarly aggressive strategy allowed OSU to rip off big play after big play when defenders weren't at home in important positions. Sometimes it's good to be aggressive, and sometimes you don't need to take unnecessary risks because you're the more talented team.

Good for Sean Mannion and Mike Riley, who have otherwise endured a nightmare season. If they can pull a road upset next week over Washington they can improbably go bowling. Still, this probably shouldn't distract from the fact that Riley and the Beavers have been below .500 in conference play four of the last five years.

Utah 20, Stanford 17

Utah is amazing. The average margin of victory in Utah's conference games? 6 points. And if you remove Utah's 24 point loss to Oregon from the equation? Three. The Utes have played three overtime games, and another two games basically decided on the final play of regulation. They are insane.

They also beat Stanford, so they're just dandy in my book. I don't know if I can condone football games that finish 7-7 in regulation, but I won't complain about the final result. The box score is ugly in a very incredible way. Utah only ran 60 (non-punt) plays despite two overtime possessions! There were 17 punts! Only four were returned, for a total of 23 yards! Five of the punts were in opponent territory! Stanford had one play longer than 20 yards! 21 plays resulted in a loss of yardage!

Arizona 27, Washington 26

How exactly do you go about losing a game in which you out-gain your opponent by 129 yards and come out even in the turnover battle? Why, by missing a field goal, an extra point, and accumulating 97 more penalty yards than your opponent. Which means you can blame Pac-12 refs, if that happens to be your bag.

At the moment, lots of blame is getting aimed towards Chris Petersen, who ran a running play that led to a fumble when he probably should have just called three straight kneel downs that would have taken the clock down towards 0:15 so that Washington could have punted the ball well down field. Of course, you would also expect your running back to not fumble in that scenario. Petersen is also getting criticism for playing the idiotic kicker icing game incorrectly, which I'm all for. Kicker icing is dumb even when it has no discernible impact.

As for Arizona - the Wildcats have played incrementally worse in every game since upsetting Oregon, which is perplexing in many ways. They now face very long odds to win the title because they would have to win out over two very tough teams while also seeing other results go their way. They should be eliminated anyway because ARGH THAT STUPID STUPID HAIL MARY.

Next Week

Washington State at Arizona State, 10:00 a.m., Pac-12 Network
Arizona at Utah, 12:30, ESPN
Stanford at California, 1:00, Fox Sports 1
Colorado at Oregon, 1:30, Pac-12 Network
USC at UCLA, 5:00, ABC
Oregon State at Washington, 7:30, Pac-12 Network

Wait . . . there's a 10:00 a.m. Pac-12 kickoff and it's not in Colorado? That's just bizarre. That's what you get for blowing it against the Beavers, ASU.

From a neutral perspective, It's not a great week for the conference despite having six games on Saturday. Two games look like likely blowouts and another two match up also-rans in the North just looking for bowl eligibility. On the other hand, Utah/Arizona and USC/UCLA should be great, great games full of desperation and/or hatred, and any time you get a rivalry game like the Big Game with both teams sitting one win short of a bowl then fun things can happen.

If Cal won the Big Game and I got home in time to watch UCLA/USC and enjoy the schadenfreude of whichever team loses the Victory Bell I would be so happy. USC/UCLA is my favorite game every single year, because one fan base is going to be absolutely miserable, and usually in the melt-downiest of ways.