Southern California head coach Clay Helton looks up at the scoreboard during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State in Los Angeles, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
- The No. 13 USC Trojans are 2.5-point favorites over the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship Game slated for Friday, December 18th, at 8:00 PM EST
- South Division champ USC is coming off a thrilling 43-38 comeback win over crosstown rival UCLA in Week 15, while Oregon replaces Washington as the North Division representative due to lingering COVID issues for the Huskies
- Find the odds, spread, and analysis on the game below
The Pac-12 was set on having a South Division team play a North Division team – even if logic says otherwise – in the conference championship game. So, the 13th-ranked and undefeated USC Trojans will host the Oregon Ducks (not the Washington Huskies) Friday, Dec. 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET at the Coliseum.
The Trojans clinched the South Division title by virtue of Utah’s 38-21 win over Colorado in Week 15. But USC earned the crown by knocking off a worthy UCLA squad 43-38 in comeback fashion.
Following the win, USC head coach Clay Helton admitted his team would have to prepare for two teams (Washington and Oregon) this week after the conference put out a statement claiming UW would represent the North Division in the title game.
Alas, that was not to be, as the Huskies bowed out of the game late Monday morning due to lingering COVID issues that would prevent them from fielding enough scholarship players in Friday’s game. Enter Oregon, the team with the next-best record in the division at 3-2.
Oregon vs USC Pac-12 Championship Game Odds
|Oregon Ducks||+128||+2.5 (+102)||Over 62.5 (-110)|
|#13 USC Trojans||-158||-2.5 (-124)||Under 62.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Dec. 15 at FanDuel
The Men of Troy have covered the spread in three straight games heading into this first conference title game between the two teams.
The fact this game is even being played is questionable at best. Some have suggested the conference simply declare Southern California the Pac-12 champion and give them the conference’s automatic berth in a New Year’s Six bowl (which would be the Fiesta this season). But the conference is pressing on with a title game, bad optics be damned.
How Good is USC?
Playing this game gives the Trojans an outside chance at a berth in the College Football Playoff. SC fans need to hope for an impressive victory over Oregon (the Trojans have lost to the Ducks in three of their last four attempts) and chaos for teams ranked above it.
The odd move to insert UO into the title game didn’t phase USC head coach Clay Helton.
“Obviously, 2020 has been a different year,” Helton said. “We’ve taken the approach that anytime, any place, anywhere, anyone, you roll with it because you don’t know. … Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us.”
So 3-2 Oregon is now playing in the PAC 12 championship game against 5-0 USC because Washington can’t play. The PAC 12 should fire their entire leadership structure. Every. Single. One. Impossible to have handled this worse than they have.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) December 14, 2020
Just how good is USC? Yes, the program is 5-0 for the first time since 2006. But COVID-forced schedule changes have benefited the Trojans along the way. The program dodged Alabama, Notre Dame, Cal, Stanford and Washington once its updated schedule came out. Then, SC’s game against Colorado was canceled due to its own coronavirus issues. The Trojans needed three comebacks in the final minutes against Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA just to remain undefeated. This is not a powerhouse right now.
2021 CFP National Championship Odds Tracker
Ducks Haven’t Been Impressive
Neither are the Ducks. Oregon may be the reigning conference champs – and looked good early in the season. But UO’s lack of experience seems to have caught up with them after losing back-to-back road games against Oregon State and Cal. The defeat in Berkeley was especially mystifying.
The normally prolific Oregon offense was shut out in the second half against the Golden Bears as Cal picked up its first win December 5th. Then, the Ducks had their game against the Huskies canceled due to UW’s COVID outbreak.
So, while the Ducks are slumping and essentially backed into the conference title game, Friday’s tilt could be a close one.
The Ducks blew out the Trojans last year 56-24 in L.A. Yes, there are plenty of impact players gone from Eugene who played in that victory (namely Justin Herbert and Penei Sewell). But the total could very well be similar.
USC is averaging 35.2 points per game, while Oregon is averaging 34.2 points per game. Southern California’s defense is less than stout, surrendering 25 points per game, with Andy Avalos’ unit even worse, coughing up 28 points per game.
USC defensive coordinator Todd Orlando described Oregon as explosive. Said the Ducks utilize their personnel really well.
— Keely Eure (@keelyismyname) December 15, 2020
While I’m staying away from picking a winner (I’m leaning toward the Trojans), the over is the solid play in this one.
The pick: Over 61.5 (-106)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.