Their spot in the Pac-12 South Division race could be decided hours before the Arizona Wildcats kick off in Pullman on Saturday night, or that game against the Washington State Cougars could determine if Arizona still has a chance to win the title.
That’s how the South looks entering the second-to-last week of the regular season thanks to a crowded top half of the division.
Utah (7-3, 5-3) are currently alone in first place, with Arizona (5-5, 4-3) and Arizona State (6-4, 4-3) tied with the Utes in the loss column. USC (5-5, 4-4) is only a game back but has been eliminated from title consideration after losing at home to California last Saturday.
The most important game this weekend that will determine the South happens to be the first one on the Pac-12 slate: Utah visits Colorado (5-5, 2-5) at 11:30 a.m. Tucson time.
A win by the Utes—they are favored by seven on the road against a Buffaloes team that has dropped five straight since a 5-0 start—and they are guaranteed at least a share of the title. However, Utah would still need ASU to lose once more in order to earn a bid in the Pac-12 title game Nov. 30 in Santa Clara, Calif.
Utah is the only South team not to play in the championship since it was created in 2011.
If Utah loses then the spotlight shifts to a pair of 8:30 p.m. MT games: Arizona at Washington State (9-1, 6-1) and ASU at Oregon (6-4, 4-4).
Arizona would have to beat the Cougars in order to stay alive for the title, assuming Utah had lost, while ASU would still be in it regardless of how it fares in Eugene. That’s because the Sun Devils have the tiebreaker over Utah by virtue of their head-to-head win on Nov. 3.
An ASU loss Saturday followed by a win over Arizona in the Territorial Cup would give the Sun Devils the title. Arizona must beat Wazzu and ASU to get the crown and a chance to redeem itself for that horrible performance against Oregon in the 2014 Pac-12 final.
But again, that’s only if Utah loses to Colorado earlier in the day. That game is likely to be wrapping up around the time Arizona’s players and coaches are sitting down for their pregame meal.