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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 6:33 PM

The Pac-12 South: Can’t anybody win this thing?

That’s the operative question after a weekend in which UCLA fell heavily at Utah, 31-6, and Arizona State lost at Washington State, 37-27. It’s gotten to the point that Utah, which began its Pac-12 life with an 0-4 record, could be the division representative to the first football title game Friday, Dec. 2.

That won’t be easy. ASU would have to lose its final two games, among other things.

Here are the three candidates:

— UCLA (5-5, 4-3). Finishes with Colorado and USC.

— Arizona State (6-4, 4-3). Finishes with Arizona and Cal.

— Utah (6-4, 3-4). Finishes with Washington State and Colorado.

UCLA could make it easy by winning its last two games, in which case it gets the bid to the title game. (The Pac-12 office probably doesn’t like to be reminded that the last time UCLA visited Oregon in 2010, the Ducks won 60-13).

If ASU wins out and UCLA loses one, the Sun Devils get the chance for a rematch with Oregon (the Ducks don’t have the North wrapped up yet, but one more win against either USC or Oregon State does it). And ASU played a strong game earlier in Eugene.

If Utah stumbles and ASU and UCLA finish tied at 5-4, the Bruins win the tiebreaker, having beaten the Sun Devils.

If the three teams finish in a three-way tie at 5-4 — and it appears there’s more than a slim chance of that — Arizona State is declared the winner on the basis of the league tiebreaker.

Here’s how it works. First, they look at head-to-head competition between the three, and that would finish 1-1 for each.

Then they go to records within the division. UCLA’s would be 2-3 (it’s 1-2 now); ASU’s would be either 3-2 or 4-1 (it’s 3-1 now); Utah’s would be 3-2 (2-2 now).

The Bruins would be thrown out of the equation for the worst division record, and the process then reverts to a two-team tiebreaker. ASU wins that over Utah because of a head-to-head win Oct. 8.

My money’s on Arizona State, although the Sun Devils have made it difficult on themselves by losing their last two.

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