The Cardinal were beaten handily by USC in Week 2 and suffered a three-point road loss to San Diego State a week later. Both losses are looking worse each week, especially the latter as the Aztecs ride a two-game skid in which they've been outscored by 41 points, including a blowout loss to Fresno State at home.
Nonetheless, they've rebounded for four-straight wins, most recently a 49-7 dismantling of Oregon, and control their own destiny in the Pac-12 title race. They do not, however, control their own destiny in the playoff race, even with three top-15 teams remaining on the schedule. Two of those teams are Washington and Washington State, both of whom, following vomit-inducing Week 7 losses, are clinging to once-promising playoff hopes.
Both the Huskies and Cougars have a good playoff shot if they win out. Both are done with another loss, which is highly possible with a hot Stanford team on their respective November schedules.
CFB Rankings: The Top 100 Teams Entering Week 9
The Cardinal can keep the Pac-12 from the playoff for a second time in four years with wins in both of those games. In doing so, they could do enough to slide into contention, but it's far more likely the victories would be of benefit to the other four Power Five conferences and Notre Dame.