It looked as though we were heading to a traffic jam atop the Pac 12 South Division today, but Arizona State (7-2, 5-1 Pac 12) pulled away and remains on top of the division after avoiding an upset at Utah (4-5, 1-5 Pac 12). Taylor Kelly‘s 14-yard touchdown pass to Richard Smith late in the fourth quarter gave the Sun Devils their second lead of the game and the defense came up with the stops they needed to escape with the win.
Utah had dominated Arizona State for much of the game but could not come up with the plays they needed in the fourth quarter to see this one through to their second top 25 upset in conference play this season. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson was intercepted on the first offensive play after Arizona State took the lead but the defense bailed him out for the costly error, but Wilson would be intercepted again on the next possession to allow Arizona State to run out the clock.
Arizona State’s win avoids a complicated Pac 12 South picture. As it stands now, Arizona State still controls the fate of the division and is the most likely team to play at Stanford in the Pac 12 championship game if things play out as they are now. Arizona State, winners of four straight, host Oregon State before visiting UCLA in what may be the biggest game in the division remaining. But the regular season finale against rival Arizona could loom large as well.
As for Utah, the path to a postseason berth is very much an uphill journey. Next week Utah travels to Oregon, a team expected to bounce back from a rough loss at Stanford in a big way. That is not a match-up any team would want to walk in to, so Utah could be in for a long game. Utah needs two wins to become eligible for the postseason though, and the final two games of the regular season are still potential wins against Washington State and Colorado.