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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

November 13, 2011 at 12:13 AM

Just another day at the office in the Pac-12 . . .

One thing about a football season. Just about the time you think immutable truths have been established, uh, forget it.

Andrew Luck was going to shepherd Stanford past Oregon (at least that’s the way I saw it) and point the Cardinal toward the Pac-12 title game and possible a shot at the national championship. Well, hold that thought. Luck threw two interceptions, fumbled once, and the Ducks put a 53-30 hurt on Stanford, and the game didn’t do anything for Luck’s Heisman candidacy.

A win there and Stanford would have clinched the Pac-12 North spot in the title game because the Cardinal has only one more league game, against Cal. Instead, the driver’s seat belongs to Oregon, which needs only one win in its last two games — against USC and Oregon State — to host the game Friday, Dec. 2.

Arizona went to Colorado, and the Buffs hadn’t yet broken through for a Pac-12 victory. That’s now been taken care of, thanks to Rodney Stewart’s 181 yards rushing and three touchdowns against the Wildcats in a 48-29 romp. It’s become the season that wasn’t for the UA, now 2-8 and having fired the coach, Mike Stoops.

There were relative routine wins by Cal and USC over Oregon State and Washington, respectively. But there was nothing routine about the developments in the Pac-12 South race.

UCLA went to Salt Lake City with its future in its hands — but with a tougher finishing schedule than Arizona State. The flighty Bruins allowed 167 rushing yards by John White and three touchdowns, and the Utes sent them packing, 31-6.

Big downer for the Bruins, right? Well, not so big as they thought, when Washington State rose up and swatted aside Arizona State, 37-27. Once again, the Bruins control their destiny — but that’s only assured if they can finish with wins against Colorado and USC.

So here’s the Pac-12 South picture: USC, the leader, is ineligible for the title game. UCLA and ASU are 4-3 in conference play and Utah suddenly can’t be counted out at 3-4.

It’s 12:50 a.m. and I’m struggling to figure out the variables in the Pac-12’s divisional tiebreaker system. I’ll try to get more on that Sunday and sort it out. It’s possible UCLA, ASU and Utah could finish in a three-way tie for second behind USC, with each 1-1 against the other two. If that happens, it gets complicated.

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