We knew the Pac-12 was strong, but it would have been hard to predict that by week 8 there would be no undefeated team. Oregon lost, and they haven't even played Stanford yet. Preseason South favorite UCLA has lost twice and everyone's #2 pick down south USC has gone down twice as well.
Other Contenders, some very unlikely, have emerged out of the South Division, which in a huge turnaround has become the stronger division, largely due to Stanford's 5-3 start. Arizona has cruised to a 6-1 record and went into Eugene like they owned Autzen and stomped the Ducks. Arizona St is also 6-1 and boasts marquee victories over Stanford and USC. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Utah, who has already matched their win-total from a year ago on their way to their own 6-1 start. The Utes shocked UCLA in Los Angeles and proved it wasn't a fluke by going in to Corvallis and taking down Oregon St in double overtime. They have kept the run alive with a memorable touchdown pass from Travis Wilson with 5 seconds to play to beat USC. If it weren't for a total breakdown in the second half against Washington St to lose a 3 touchdown lead, the Utes would be the Pac-12's only undefeated team. The Utes are tough, especially at home, and if they get their Quarterback situation solidified they can for the first time be a contender in the Pac-12 South heading into November.
In the North, all roads to the Pac-12 Championship game go through Oregon. They are very much in charge right now. It would be very unlikely for them to lose two more games for Stanford to have a shot, and the way Washington is playing I don't see them winning out (and Oregon losing at least one more game). Stanford and Washington are definitely runners up, and I think Washington will finish second. Every game remaining on the schedule after the Arizona St loss looks like it could and should go the Huskies' way. Stanford still has Oregon and UCLA on the road. Oregon St should finish fourth and become bowl-eligible. Cal will probably have to find a way to beat Oregon St unless they beat Oregon, USC or Stanford to get a sixth win. Washington St will likely finish where they are now.
The South is more interesting. There are 5 teams who could VERY easily win this division still. There has been little separation, and the next two weeks will give us a much clearer outlook of where each team is at. For now, I think Arizona St and Utah are the front-runners. They seem to be the most complete and proven at this point. Taylor Kelly is back for ASU and in his absence everyone else has stepped up. How he played against UW in Seattle indicates just how strong he is and the Sun Devils right now have to be considered the team to beat. Kyle Whittingham's crew has come up with their best start since joining the PAC and for the first time have a real shot at the South title. The USC win proved a lot about them, and answered questions about the passing game as Travis Wilson gave himself some job security after losing the job to Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson. Unfortunately that was the first test of many. Next up is Arizona St. Then? Good luck vs. Oregon, at Stanford, vs. Arizona before finishing in Boulder against rocky mountain rival Colorado. They will lose at least twice more.
Arizona is a very talented team. They've gained confidence with big wins, and will have a lot more opportunities to prove themselves. The most likely scenario is for them to finish about 8-4, along with UCLA. Steve Sarkisian has been impressive and I don't think its unrealistic for the Trojans to run the table and finish at 9-3, although the loss to Utah really hurts. Keep in mind that USC has a loss to Boston College, and only have two losses in conference play making them very much alive in the South race.
How They'll Finish