Pac-12 South impact game

July, 8, 2011
7/08/11
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The question: What is the biggest impact game in the Pac-12 South?

The answer: Arizona at Arizona State on Nov. 19.

Picking an "impact game" in the South Division is nowhere near as easy as in the North Division, which features a pair of preseason top-10 teams in Oregon and Stanford.

So what are the criteria? First, you have to pick a South Division front-runner. For us, that's Arizona State. So then, who might be the Sun Devils' biggest potential foil?

Our first choice would be USC. The Trojans seem like a team that if things fall into place, they could win the division. But USC isn't eligible for the postseason, so a head-to-head defeat to the Trojans won't carry as much weight as a head-to-head loss to ... whom?

That falls to our No. 3 team in the South: Arizona. While the Wildcats are rebuilding their offensive line, have suffered a number of key offseason injuries -- notably knee injuries to safety Adam Hall and linebacker Jake Fischer -- and are still waiting on the status of receiver Juron Criner, who is dealing with a non-injury medical condition that brings into question his availability this fall, they still seem like a slightly better option than Utah as potential division winner.

Why? Mostly because we don't know what we'll get with the Utes in their first year of Pac-12 play.

And the Wildcats, whatever their issues, still have a potentially high-powered offense with quarterback Nick Foles and a deep crew of receivers that could handle the loss of Criner and still be elite.

Further, there's something to be said for this being a bitter rivalry. Imagine if the division is at stake in Tempe. Or if the Wildcats have a chance to ruin the Sun Devils' special season.

That certainly would be high impact in the state, as well as the South Division.

Ted Miller | email

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