The Pac-12 is known for having the most competitive conferences and two of the toughest divisions in college football. Of all the major conferences, the Pac-12 seems to enjoy the closest thing to balance that we can find.
But when push comes to shove, the North has taken the crown. There have been six Pac-12 title games, and the North has generally wrecked the South.
2011: Oregon Ducks 49, UCLA Bruins 31. This was a bit of a joke of a conference title game. UCLA finished in second in a pretty weak Pac-12 South, but got in over bowl-banned USC. USC had beaten Oregon only weeks before, so that would probably have been a better game.
2012: Stanford Cardinal 27, UCLA 24. This was the best of all the Pac-12 title games, with a talented UCLA team just not able to get over the hump against a veteran Stanford team that knew how to close all season.
2013: Stanford 38, Arizona State Sun Devils 14. Stanford had a few hiccups en route to their second straight conference title, but they fired on all cylinders to clinch the Pac-12 in Tempe.
2014: Oregon 51, Arizona Wildcats 14. Marcus Mariota sowed up the Heisman Trophy with an obliteration of an Arizona team that ran out of luck at the worst possible time.
2015: Stanford 41, USC Trojans 22. Christian McCaffrey ran all over a USC team that arrived a year too early en route to the veteran Cardinal clinching a Rose Bowl berth.
2016: Washington Huskies 41, Colorado Buffaloes 10. Colorado’s offense was all over the place in a total Washington thrashing.
However, every year the Pac-12 North has generally been the favorites to win. The Pac-12 North was the host in the first two games, Stanford was generally considered better than ASU, and Oregon, Stanford and Washington the next three seasons were playoff teams near-playoff teams.
All signs are pointing to USC being the favorites to win the Pac-12 this season in a South that isn’t quite as formidable as in year’s past, but don’t sleep on the North, where Washington and Stanford figure to be good as well.