- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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A lot could be decided this weekend. Fair warning, the following blog post contains some dizzying intellect.
Front-runner: Sitting No. 1 in the country in both human polls and on the verge of taking over the top spot in the BCS rankings with a little computer assistance, Oregon is a heavy favorite to lock up the Pac-12 North Division title this weekend when they host Stanford. The Ducks have owned the Cardinal of late, especially at home. An Oregon victory sends it to the conference title game.
Contender: Stanford is the only other team that can win the North. If the Cardinal win, they'll be 7-1 in conference with tiebreakers over Oregon and Oregon State. They could still lose the following week at UCLA, and Oregon would win the North with one conference loss if it beats Oregon State. By my math, Oregon State can't catch either Oregon or Stanford. Even if Oregon State wins out, Oregon loses to Stanford and Oregon State and Stanford beats Oregon but loses to UCLA, all three would be 7-2 in conference play and Stanford would hold the tiebreaker over both Oregon schools. Here's the Pac-12's explanation of tiebreakers.
Front-runner: By virtue of a stronger record in conference (5-2) it's UCLA, which hosts USC this weekend in a winner-take-all game at The Rose Bowl. If UCLA wins, it won't matter what happens next week against Stanford because it will have six conference victory and no one would be able to catch the Bruins. Here's something worth pondering, though. If Stanford beats Oregon and UCLA beats USC, the Bruins and Cardinal will have a very interesting contest next week. If Stanford also beats UCLA, the Cardinal win the North, the Bruins would have already won the South and they would meet again one week later in the conference title game. But we'll wait until that potentially awkward scenario actually happens before weighing in.
Contender: USC closes out the regular season with Notre Dame, so this is the Trojans' last chance to grab a conference win. It's the same scenario as with UCLA. If the Trojans win this weekend, they win the South Division regardless of what happens the following week. They would have six wins, and even if UCLA beats Stanford, the Trojans would hold the tiebreaker.