Well, sort of. Colorado’s shocking football victory today over Utah — as a three-touchdown underdog — knocked the Utes out of contention to be the Pac-12 South representative to the league title game, and vaulted Rick Neuheisel’s UCLA Bruins into the game against either Stanford or Oregon next week.
If you witnessed any of UCLA’s 48-12 loss to Arizona in October, you’re forgiven for going, “Huh?”
UCLA is 6-5 entering Saturday night’s game with USC. It’s 5-3 in conference games to Arizona State’s 4-4 (entering ASU’s Friday night game against Cal), but with Utah out of a potential three-way tie, the worst the Bruins can do is be knotted with ASU. And since UCLA won the head-to-head matchup, it goes to the first league championship game.
No matter that it could very well end the season with a 6-7 record and Neuheisel may get fired.
As for that “champions” tag, the league says that since USC is ineligible, it can’t be deemed champions — it can only say it finished first. And that whoever is next in line in the Pac-12 South, will be champions, or if ASU and UCLA share it, they’re co-champions.
This doesn’t do a lot for the glamour of the first Pac-12 title game. Utah would have gone there with an 8-4 record had it won, and ASU could be 7-5 if it beats Cal. UCLA will have to beat a 14-point favorite in USC to have a winning record for the title game.
“One of the goals we established as a team when we entered camp this fall was to play for the first-ever Pac-12 title,” Neuheisel said in a statement. “Keeping in mind that we are still focused on beating USC tomorrow night, we are certainly excited to represent the South division in the conference championship game.”
So, if UCLA loses to USC and wins the Pac-12 title game, it could go to the Rose Bowl, lose — and finish with a 7-7 record.
What can you say at a time like this, but . . . what a country.