California Stanford Football

Head coach David Shaw and Stanford will be scoreboard watching during their game with Notre Dame to see if the Cardinal will play for a Pac-12 title.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, The Associated Press

With USC sitting at home waiting after clinching the Pac-12’s South Division title, all eyes will be on the Apple Cup to see who the Trojans will face from the North.

The Cougars can claim the title and date with the 10-2 Trojans with a victory over arch-rival Washington in Seattle.

However, the Huskies, who were eliminated from a possible repeat title last week when Stanford edged California 17-14 in the Big Game, would like nothing more than to deny the Cougars that opportunity.

Washington, Washington State and Stanford all have two losses. The Cardinal, who play Notre Dame in a nonconference battle on Saturday, finished 7-2 in the conference.

The Huskies and Cougars are both sitting at 6-2.

If the Cougars win, they get the nod over Stanford by virtue of a 24-21 home win over the Cardinal three weeks ago.

If the Huskies win, the Cardinal go because they defeated the Huskies 30-22 at home two weeks ago.

Washington had to rally by scoring 10 points in the final 58 seconds to edge Utah 33-30; Washington State had a bye.

While the Apple Cup has the most riding on it, four other teams entered the final week of the regular season needing one win to become bowl eligible.

And, as it worked out, they faced each other.

UCLA, which fired coach Jim Mora on Sunday, hosted California on Friday night in a battle of two 5-6 teams. The winner gets to practice a little longer while the loser is done for the season.

The same is the case for Utah and Colorado. The Buffaloes, who had a bye, head to Utah to take on a Utes team coming off a tough loss at Washington.

Arizona is at Arizona State with both teams already eligible for postseason play. The Sun Devils became bowl eligible with a 40-24 win at Oregon State. The Wildcats are coming off a 48-28 loss at Oregon.

That win by the Ducks, thanks in part to the return of quarterback Justin Herbert, became bowl eligible. Oregon will look to finish strong in the Civil War against an Oregon State team that has seen much better days.

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

1. USC (57 points, 10-2, 8-1 Pac-12, last week 1): Trojans wrapped up the regular season with a home win over UCLA. USC has won four straight and now gets an extra week to prepare for Stanford or Washington State in the Pac-12 title game.

2. Washington State (54 points, 9-2, 6-2 last week 2): Cougars had a bye week to prepare for the rival Huskies in the Apple Cup. A win there and Washington State will play USC in the Pac-12 title game.

3. Stanford (52 points, 8-3, 7-2, last week 3): It wasn’t easy but the Cardinal wrapped up the Pac-12 season with a home win over Cal to remain alive for the North Division title. Stanford hosts Notre Dame this week, a strong test for sure.

4. Washington (47 points, 9-2, 6-2, last week 4): The Huskies rallied to knock off Utah with 10 points in the final minute to stun the Utes and keep alive the hopes of a 10-win regular season. While Washington can’t win the North, it can knock out rival Washington State in the Apple Cup.

5. Oregon (39 points, 6-5, 3-5, last week 8): The return of starting quarterback Justin Herbert made all the difference on offense, while the defense had a stellar game against the Wildcats with an extra week to prepare. Ducks back in a bowl game after a one year absence.

6. Arizona (34 points, 7-4, 5-3, last week 5): Arizona didn't have the same kind of offensive fire power against the Ducks, especially quarterback Khalil Tate, who was contained for the first time all season.

7. Arizona State (29 points, 6-5, 5-3, last week 7): Sun Devils made sure to not allow Oregon State a thought of a possible upset, jumping out to a 30-0 lead and coasting to a win and bowl eligibility.

8t. UCLA (21 points, 5-6, 3-5, last week 6): UCLA fell to USC and then fired coach Jim Mora with one game to play. Bruins faced Cal on Friday with the winner becoming eligible for a bowl game.

8t. Utah (21 points, 5-6, 2-6, last week 9): Utah had a victory at Washington all locked up with another first down or two, but gave up 10 points late and now must win at home against Colorado to go bowling.

10. Colorado (16 points, 5-6, 2-6, last week 10): Colorado had a bye to prepare for what it hopes isn’t its last game of the season. Buffaloes must win to reach six wins and bowl invite.

11. California (15 points, 5-6, 2-6, last week 11): Golden Bears came close to ruining Stanford’s North division title hopes but dropped the tough 17-14 decision. Cal needed a win at UCLA on Friday to become bowl eligible in Justin Wilcox’s first season.

12. Oregon State (5 points, 1-10, 0-8, last week 12): Oregon State could salvage the forgettable season just a bit with a win at Oregon in the Civil War. Beavers must start better and play all four quarters to have any kind of a chance.

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

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