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What needs to happen for Utah to win the Pac-12?

The regular season Pac-12 championship remains up for grabs with two weeks of conference competition remaining

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Kara Eaker competes on the beam at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.

Utah’s Kara Eaker competes on the beam as No. 4 Utah takes on No. 5 UCLA at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

With two weeks of conference competition remaining, the Pac-12 gymnastics championship — the regular season title — remains up for grabs.

Four teams — No. 3 Utah, No. 5 UCLA, No. 7 California and No. 11 Oregon State — remain in contention to win the conference title, with the Bruins and Bears concluding conference competition this weekend, and the Red Rocks and Beavers the following weekend.

With ties and loss scattered across the standings, making sense of what needs to happen for Utah to win at least a share of the title for a fourth straight year can be confusing.

Here’s what we know:

How do ties compare to losses?

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Oregon State’s Jade Carey competes on the floor exercise during the NCAA college women’s gymnastics championships, Thursday, April 14, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Tony Gutierrez, Associated Press

Per a Pac-12 spokesperson, ties are worth half a point in the conference standings.

Thus, Utah is currently in the No. 1 position in the conference with a 4-1-0 record, while Oregon State at No. 2 has an identical winning percentage with a 3-0-2 record.

Head-to-head tiebreakers don’t exist in gymnastics, which is why four teams shared the regular season title in 2022. Arizona State, Cal, Oregon State and Utah all had the same winning percentage.

What does Utah need to do?

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Utah’s Abby Paulson performs her beam routine during an NCAA gymnastics meet at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023.

Ryan Sun, Deseret News

The Red Rocks outright won the conference title in 2020 and 2021, before earning a share of the title last season.

If Utah defeats Arizona Friday night and Oregon State loses to Arizona State, then Utah will have guaranteed itself a share of the Pac-12 regular season championship.

Defeat Oregon State the following week in Corvallis and Utah will outright win the conference title.

Other scenarios come into play if Utah loses to either Arizona or Oregon State, though a share of the title wouldn’t be out of the question with another loss or a tie.

Does the regular season title matter?

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Utah’s Jaedyn Rucker performs her floor routine at the fourth annual Rio Tinto Best of Utah Meet at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Instituted for the first time in 2020, the regular season conference title is still a relatively new invention, at least in the Pac-12.

Because of that, it doesn’t exactly carry the same weight as the Pac-12 championships — the conference’s traditional postseason meets — do. At least not yet.

Case in point, following Utah’s win over Cal, both Maile O’Keefe and Abby Brenner demurred when asked about how important another regular season title would be for the Red Rocks.

“Um ... someone else want to answer that?” O’Keefe said amid nervous laughter.

Added an audibly shrugging Brenner: “I’m a newbie, this is my first Pac-12s.”

Jaedyn Rucker then explained that the regular season conference title does matter to Utah — “I would say it is definitely important to us,” she said. “We aren’t going to be mad if we do get it” — but the Red Rocks also clearly have loftier ambitions.

“We are just taking it day by day,” Rucker said. “We don’t expect anything. ... We are focused on the day-by-day, getting better step by step, little by little, and whatever happens, happens.”

Added O’Keefe: “I agree. It is something where we have to focus on our process and if we do (the conference title) will be something that just happens.”