2012 New Mexico Bowl scoreboard

The Wildcats are trying to make sure they get to another one of these.
Photo by Wildcat Universe

Stanford, the new favorite in the North division, faces off with USC, a team trying to go from 0-2 in Pac-12 play to winning the South.

Prepare for This Week in the Pac-12 with the TV schedule and a breakdown of the conference’s potential bowl shortage.

Here are this week’s games (all times Arizona/Mountain):

Fri Nov 15Wash.UCLA7 p.m.ESPN2
Sat Nov 16Wash. St.ARIZONA12 p.m.Pac-12 Network
Sat Nov 16UtahOregon2 p.m.Fox Sports 1
Sat Nov 16CalColorado3:30 p.m.Pac-12 Network
Sat Nov 16StanfordUSC6 p.m.ABC
Sat Nov 16Oregon St.Arizona St.7:30 p.m.Pac-12 Network

Washington (6-3 / 3-3) at UCLA (7-2 / 4-2)
After a solid road win last week the Bruins look to avoid a letdown against a team that hasn’t won away from home in two months.

Who does Wildcat Universe want to win?
UCLA. If the Cats aren’t going to win the South you certainly don’t want the Devils to do it.

Washington State (4-5 / 2-4) at ARIZONA (6-3 / 3-3)
In the Cougars’ three-game losing streak they have given up 52 points, 62 points and 55 points. I vote for that on Saturday.

Who does Wildcat Universe want to win?
Your bounce-back Wildcats.

Utah (4-5 / 1-5) at Oregon (8-1 / 5-1)
Utah has to travel to Eugene the week after a Duck loss. This feels like the Utes are heading for Oregeddon.

Who does Wildcat Universe want to win?
Oregon. Read on for the importance of more Oregon wins and Utah losses.

Cal (1-9 / 0-7) at Colorado (3-6 / 0-6)
These two teams have been looking forward to this game like a mangy coyote eyeing a roadkill rabbit.

Who does Wildcat Universe want to win?
Cal, I suppose, since Colorado isn’t mathematically eliminated from bowl contention yet. Plus it’d be nice to see Sonny Dykes get his first Pac-12 win.

Stanford (8-1 / 6-1) at USC (7-3 / 4-2)
USC’s path to the division championship is to beat Colorado and UCLA and have ASU lose two of three so the Trojans, Bruins and Sun Devils all finish 6-3 in league play. ASU would be eliminated from the tiebreaker due to its inferior record against the other South teams and USC would advance based on its head-to-head win over UCLA.

Who does Wildcat Universe want to win?
Root for USC if you want to keep the above scenario alive to give ASU another way to lose the South. Pull for Stanford if your primary focus is Arizona’s bowl position.

Oregon State (6-3 / 4-2) at Arizona State (7-2 / 5-1)
nexT week aRizonA state Plays a huGe gAme for the south chaMpionship in los angEles.

Who does Wildcat Universe want to win?
OSU. Whoever’s Playing ASU has a winning record for the first time in three weeks but the Beavers’ have only beaten one team with a winning record all year (5-4 San Diego State).

* * *

One sad change in the Pac-12 tier rankings:

    National Contenders – Stanford, Oregon
    Division Contenders – ASU, UCLA, USC
    Bowl Attenders – OSU, Washington, ARIZONA
    Bowl Contenders – Utah, WSU
    Waiting for the Season to Enders – Colorado, Cal

The Wildcats have dropped out of the division race but are still eligible for the postseason.

* * *

It’s certainly not normal that one week is must-win if you want to stay in the conference race and the next week is must-win if you want to hold onto a Pac-12 bowl bid.

But wait, you say, the Cats already have six wins. Why aren’t they guaranteed a bowl bid? The Pac-12 only has seven bowl tie-ins and, just like with the airlines, the seats have been oversold.

The Pac avoided a lot of nonconference losses this year and there are two teams – Colorado and Cal – giving wins to everybody. As a result there are already eight bowl-eligible teams:

Pac-12 RankBowl Eligible TeamRecord
3Arizona St.7-2
7Oregon St.6-3

You’re welcome to rank Arizona higher among the three-loss teams but the Cats have already lost to two of them. Either way the UA is a lot closer to the bottom of the list than the top so every additional win is crucial the rest of the way.

If both Stanford and Oregon make BCS bowls that solves the current problem but what if Utah or WSU, both 4-5, get in? You don’t want to be a 6-6 team in that scenario.

Boing! Get that seventh win.

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