USC Colorado Football

USC head coach Clay Helton has guided the Trojans to three straight wins after a blowout loss at Notre Dame and into the Pac-12 title game.

David Zalubowski, The Associated Press

One half of the Pac-12 title game has been decided after USC clinched the South Division title last Saturday after defeating last year’s representative from the South, Colorado, in Boulder.

The North still has three teams alive with Stanford, Washington and Washington State.

The Cougars, who have a bye this week, control their own destiny. Win at Washington in the Apple Cup and WSU will play the Trojans for the title.

Stanford, which upset Washington last week, needs to win this Saturday against California in the Big Game. Then the Cardinal need to have the Huskies, last year’s North champs, top the Cougars to get the nod.

Washington can only repeat if Stanford loses and the Huskies beat Utah this week and then the Cougars the following week.

Regardless, the Pac-12 champion will have at least two losses and will probably be on the outside looking in at the College Football Playoff unless even more chaos takes place the next three weekends.

USC wraps up the regular season with a home game against crosstown rival UCLA. It will be the Trojans’ 12th straight game without a bye. That means they will have an extra week to heal up and begin preparing for their title-game opponent.

After California, Stanford wraps up the regular season against Notre Dame, which is coming off a blowout loss at Miami last week.

Arizona is the fifth Pac-12 team that has already become eligible for a bowl and the Wildcats head to Autzen Stadium to face an Oregon team that is 5-5 and coming off a bye.

The Ducks hope to get starting quarterback Justin Herbert back to help offset the play of Arizona starter Khalil Tate.

Oregon, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado, UCLA and California all need one win to qualify for a bowl berth.

Arizona State is at Oregon State to take on a Beavers team that played well in two home games under interim coach Cory Hall. The Sun Devils also face Arizona to close out the season.

Utah is at Washington before hosting Colorado next week. Colorado has a bye this week.

UCLA is at USC and then takes on California to close out the season. That could be a winner is in, loser is out game.

Here’s a look at Gameday’s rankings this week:

1. USC (57 points, 9-2, 7-1 Pac-12, last week 2): Trojans have rebounded nicely from the blowout loss to Notre Dame and have wrapped up the South. Trojans will get a bye to prepare for title game.

2. Washington State (53 points, 9-2, 6-2, last week 3): Cougars proved they could survive on the road and enter the bye week knowing a win over Washington will give them the North title.

3. Stanford (50 points, 7-3, 6-2, last week 5): As Bryce Love goes, so go the Cardinal. Love showed just how much of an impact he can be when healthy and has helped Stanford remain in the hunt for the North title.

4. Washington (47 points, 8-2, 5-2, last week 1): Huskies gave up three touchdowns for the first time this season and struggled to contain Bryce Love throughout the game. Uw needs help to repeat as North champions now.

5. Arizona (43 points, 7-3, 5-2, last week 4): Arizona piled up a school-record 534 rushing yards in running past the Beavers. Wildcats must now close out the season with two straight on the road, starting with Oregon.

6. UCLA (30 points, 5-5, 3-4, last week 11): UCLA won the fourth quarter and edged Arizona State at home last week. A win over USC or Cal the following week would get the Bruins bowl eligible.

7. Arizona State (28 points, 5-5, 4-3, last week 6): Sun Devils came up short at UCLA and will look to bounce back against Oregon State and become bowl eligible. Defense has been an issue the past couple weeks.

8. Oregon (25 points, 5-5, 2-5, last week 8): Ducks are coming off a bye and hope to get starting quarterback Justin Herbert back. Coach Willie Taggart said earlier in the week he would make a decision at 3:59 p.m., just before kickoff with the Wildcats.

9. Utah (22 points, 5-5, 2-5, last week 7): Utah nearly pulled out a home win despite seven turnovers against the Cougars. Utes now head to face a Huskies team stinging from last week’s loss.

10. Colorado (15 points, 5-6, 2-6, last week 9): Colorado fell behind and couldn’t catch up in home loss to USC. Buffaloes have a bye before closing the season at Utah needing a win to become bowl eligible.

11. California (13 points, 5-5, 2-5, last week 10): Golden Bears are coming off a bye and can help derail Stanford’s hopes for a Pac-12 North title with a win. That would also get Cal bowl eligible in Justin Wilcox’s first season.

12. Oregon State (5 points, 1-9, 0-7, last week 12): Oregon State couldn’t slow down Khalil Tate and the Arizona run game last Saturday as the Wildcats rushed for a school-record 534 yards in the win. Final home game for the seniors.

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Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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