The race to win the Pac-12 South will likely be convoluted and come down to the final week of the season. After the first full weekend of conference play, we are beginning to learn about which Pac-12 South teams are contenders and which are not. In this article, we will not cover Utah and will instead focus on the other five teams in the Pac-12 South because Jenna Miller will cover what we learned about Utah in their first conference game.
Could the Rumble in the Rockies Decide the Pac-12 South?
This did not seem even remotely plausible before the season that the Rumble in the Rockies rather than the Territorial Cup or the Battle of L.A. could be the rivalry game to decide the Pac-12 South winner (the Territorial Cup decided the South in 2014 while USC-UCLA decided the conference in 2015). Utah was picked third in the Pac-12 South, while Colorado was picked dead last. While it is still very early, Colorado and Utah are both 1-0 in the Pac-12 with wins at Oregon and against USC respectively. The Buffaloes got their first win over the Ducks since joining the Pac-12, and they did it on the road with a backup quarterback making his first start. Colorado made a strong statement with the win that the Pac-12 South needs to take notice of what is going on in Boulder. No longer is Colorado a guaranteed win. The Buffaloes are third in the Pac-12 in both scoring offense and total offense. Colorado and Utah are the top two teams in the Pac-12 in total defense.
Panic in Los Angeles? Not yet
UCLA and USC were predicted to finish first and second in the Pac-12 South, and they are 0-3 in Pac-12 play so far. USC fell to Stanford and Utah so far this season and is sitting at 1-3, 0-2 in the Pac-12 on the season. UCLA also lost to Stanford and is 2-2, 0-1 in the Pac-12 so far this season. USC is in a much more tumultuous position than their crosstown rival. There are still plenty more Pac-12 games to be played, so I do not think it is time to panic yet for either L.A. school, but a third conference loss will all but eliminate USC from the Pac-12 South race in all likelihood.
Arizona State is a solid contender
Just like Colorado, not many in the media gave Arizona State much of a chance before the season started, picking them fifth in the South in the preseason Pac-12 poll. The Sun Devils lost their starting quarterback Mike Bercovici, top wide receiver Devin Lucien, and all-purpose back D.J. Foster. However, their offense is humming along at an elite level this season. ASU is 4-0 this season with wins over Texas Tech and Cal.
Arizona may have found a quarterback
Arizona’s offense struggled in their week one loss to BYU at University of Phoenix Stadium with Anu Solomon at quarterback. Solomon got hurt in the game and has not started in Arizona’s three subsequent wins. Brandon Dawkins has started the last three games at quarterback for the Wildcats, and he has led the Arizona offense to over 400 total yards in all three games. This feat was not all that impressive against Grambling and Hawai’i, but watching him shred the stout Washington defense was. Arizona pushed the No. 10 Huskies to the brink, falling 35-28 in overtime in Tucson. Dawkins looks like 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his prime.