In order to go to the Rose Bowl, UCLA has to win the PAC 12 South division, and then win the PAC 12 Championship. After this weekend's debacle in Eugene, UCLA (5-2 overall, 2-2 in conference play) is now one game behind Arizona State (5-2, 3-1) in the PAC 12 South standings. The Bruins have five games left, four against Pac-12 South teams: Colorado (3-4, 0-4) Nov. 2; @Ariz (5-2, 2-2) Nov. 9; Washington (5-3,2-3) Nov. 16; Arizona St. (5-2, 3-1) on Nov. 23; and @USC (5-3,2-2) on Nov. 30. Given the competition, the toughest team vying for the Pac 12 South crown is probably Arizona State, and maybe U$C, but that's a big maybe given their injury woes and the fact their psyche, not just their balls, are deflated by their recent pathetic play.
In the next 2 weeks, UCLA plays a very beatable Colorado team at home, and a tough Arizona team away. On the other hand, Arizona State plays 2 tough teams on the road, Wash. State and the Utes. Not only that, but both the Cougars and the Utes will have the previous weekend off before playing the Sun Devils. In 2 weeks time, UCLA and Arizona State should be tied in the standings, with 3 games each left in the season.
For UCLA, Colorado is a gimme. There is absolutely no reason why the Bruins cannot whip the Buffaloes, the last place team in the conference, at home next weekend. Colorado gives up an average of 37 points a game, and has lost 4 of its last 5 games, winning only against Charleston Southern, a Big South "power." (8-1). Arizona State plays at Wash. State (4-4, 2-2), which has lost its last 2 games, but had this weekend off to lick its wounds. Given an extra week of preparation, and playing at home, the Pirate will have the Cougars ready to play hard and smart. This should be a close game, but I give the game to the Cougs.
For UCLA, the game at Arizona will be anything but a gimme. AZ State has not lost a game at home this season, and after playing Cal the week before, will be coming off a 3-game winning streak. Arizona averages almost 300 yards on the ground, and gives up only 20 points a game. I predict, unless someone blows grey matter into Mazzone's football brain, that UCLA's vanilla offense will doom its chances to win the game. Arizona State is at Utah that weekend (4-4, 1-4). The Utes are a tough team to figure out. They played UCLA, Oregon State, and Stanford tough, but have 1 win to show for their effort. Utah lost at U$C this weekend, scoring only 3 points, but their quarterback Travis Wilson was injured. TheUtes will have the week off before their game against Arizona State, which should give QB Wilson hopefully enough time to heal his sprained index finger on his throwing hand. Always tough at home, and with an extra week to prepare for the Sun Devils, I expect an energized and motivated Utah team to win this game, especially if it wants to qualify for the postseason. This game and the one against Colorado are the Utes' best chance to pick up the necessary 2 wins they need to play in December. They also have to play Oregon and Wash. State away.
A mano-a-mano match pitting UCLA and Arizona State on Nov. 23 at the Rose Bowl will probably decide the South division winner, but only if UCLA is able to gain ground on Arizona State in the next 2 weeks, as it should.