The conference title dreams seemed dead a week ago as USC looked lifeless against Stanford. The team seemed to be in disarray, the coaching staff on the hot seat. But jump forward seven days, and following a dominating victory against Arizona State mixed with Oregon losing big to Utah, and we are left what appears to be the most wide-open Pac 12 season in years. In fact, excluding ties, only 3 teams have won the conference since Pete Carrol came to the Pac 12 (Oregon, Stanford, and USC). This year there are 7 teams with a legitimate shot at the conference crown.
Utah, UCLA, and Cal are all still undefeated at 4-0. While Cal hasn't looked like world beaters in accumulating their undefeated resume, UCLA and Utah have been dominant. UCLA beat ACC opposition Virginia week one and have followed it up with big wins that include laying the hammer on Rich Rodriguez and Arizona in Tucson. Utah has been equally impressive with quality victories over a suddenly competent Michigan squad as well as arguably the biggest surprise of the season: a 6 touchdown win over conference power Oregon. This win not only symbolized that Utah has arrived to the Pac 12 stage, but potentially ended the Oregon run of dominance.
Stanford and Arizona have each looked impressive with the exception of one week. Stanford's let down was against Northwestern while Arizona had the aforementioned loss to UCLA. Stanford is already 2-0 in the conference and in great shape to win the North. Arizona will have some work to do with their loss in division to UCLA, but it is difficult to count out a team with as much speed and offense as Arizona.
Then there's Oregon. Last year's national title runner-up is already 2-2 this season, but they have played quite the schedule. Losses to Michigan State and Utah are nothing to be disappointed about. The Ducks are a solid team and should improve as Vernon Adams Jr. learns the Ducks' high octane offense. If they are sitting with 1 conference loss in November, watch out. They will be the real deal.
So where does that leave USC? Right in the thick of it. Yes, they already have a conference loss, but Stanford being in the North gives them a chance. They host their three toughest remaining Pac 12 South opponents as Utah, UCLA, and Arizona all travel to the Coliseum. They travel to Oregon and Cal which both seem winnable at this point in the season.
This year looks to be wide open. There are no clearly superior teams in the conference at this point. USC has looked average, but this year is not about supremacy. It is about improvement. Why not USC? Why can't the Trojans win the conference? They have the skill. They have schedule. They have a legitimate shot to win the most wide open Pac 12 in recent memory.