We are going to know a lot more about the race for the Pac-12 Championship Game after tonight and even more after Saturday's line-up of games, but before things get too clear, let's muddle them up and give hope to nearly every team in the conference. As of today, here is how nine of the 12 teams in the conference could make it to the Pac-12 Championship Game in December. Some have a simple and easy path, some not so much.
Of course there are a bunch of different ways that most of these teams could qualify for the game, so I'm just going to stick to outlining the easiest ways.
(Control their own destiny)
Oregon - Pretty simple, win out and they are in. Their biggest hurdle will be beating Stanford on the road tonight with a minor one when they host Oregon State in The Civil War and a minor potential trap game at Arizona the week before that. Logic suggests that the Ducks will do this, but it should be noted that each of the past three years, the Ducks have looked poised to run the table in the conference after winning their big showdown game, only to lose either lose (Or come as close to losing while winning against Cal in 2010) a trap a game in November.
Stanford - The other team in the North that controls their own destiny and just has to win out in-conference as that would mean that they beat Oregon and own the tie-breaker like they did last year. They could even lose their final game against Notre Dame and it wouldn't matter as long as they win the Pac-12 games. If they can beat Oregon tonight, it might seem like it will be all lined up for them to go to the championship game, but watch out for a major trap game at USC the immediate following week against a rejuvenated Trojan team that is long overdue to beat the Cardinal.
Oregon State - The Beavers obviously need to win out and then need Oregon to lose at least another game (and likely not have it be to Stanford because they have already lost to Stanford) outside of The Civil War. They will need Stanford to drop two out of their last three conference games, so their next two (Oregon and at USC), because they close with Cal.
(Control their own destiny)
Arizona State - All the Sun Devils will have to do is win the rest of their games, which includes showdowns at UCLA along with challenging home games against Oregon State and Arizona and a trap game at Utah this weekend. It won't be easy.
UCLA - The Bruins do need an Arizona State loss to win the South, but the good news is that they host the Sun Devils later in the month. The Bruins can't focus strictly on that game though, as the rest of their remaining games are incredibly challenging including a road trip to Arizona this weekend, a home showdown with Washington and a game at USC with the Trojans improving and out for revenge.
Arizona -Like Arizona State and UCLA, they have a pretty nightmarish schedule ahead which includes a game against seemingly unbeatable Oregon and even if they manage the Sun Devils, Bruins and Ducks, they will still need help since they lost to USC earlier in the season.
USC - Amazingly, after how dark the season began for them and firing their coach, the Trojans still have a very realistic chance at making the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Trojans can catch up with UCLA since they still have them on the schedule, and at home and have already taken care of Arizona by beating them earlier in the season, but they do need help to catch Arizona State since they lost to them in September. There are situations where the Trojans could win a clusterf*** tie-breaker with the Sun Devils if they lose one remaining game and the Trojans win out, but they will likely need the Sun Devils to drop two of their remaining games.