The Oregon Ducks and USC Trojans meet in the Pac-12 Championship on Friday night at the LA Coliseum with a potential trip to the College Football Playoff up for grabs. It’s a longshot, and USC would have to catch several breaks from other teams losing, but USC are still technically alive in the race. If the Pac-12 played closer to a full schedule, then USC wouldn’t be at much of a disadvantage right now. The reality of the situation is that the Trojans played just five regular season games, though.
They handled their business in all five games with a perfect 5-0 record, but that might not be enough, even with a Pac-12 Championship. I’ve held for a long time that the winner of the Power Five conferences should go to the playoffs along with three wildcards. It makes too much sense, so naturally, the NCAA will continue to use this broken four-team system. Washington should have been in the Pac-12 Championship. However, because of Covid-19, the Huskies are out, and Oregon goes to the conference championship by default.
No, Oregon does not deserve to go to the Pac-12 Championship after losing to Oregon State, 41-38, and Cal two weeks ago, 21-17 in back-to-back games. They enter Friday night with a record of 3-2. The Ducks have wins over Stanford, 35-14, Washington State, 43-29, and UCLA, 38-35. They imploded in that Oregon State game after blowing a comfortable lead and losing in the final minute versus their rival. The Ducks were unable to respond and had no motivation against Cal.
Maybe that’s what makes Oregon so dangerous in this game? They have nothing to play for and are playing with house money. With time to shake off the losses against Oregon State and Cal, it’s possible we see a fresh Oregon team with a new perspective on Friday night. All I’m saying is that USC cannot take the Ducks lightly despite the fact they’re only here because of Washington having to bow out. Kedon Slovis has to play better than average for the Trojans to get the win and advance to 6-0 with the Pac-12 Championship. Head below for our free Oregon vs. USC pick for December 18, 2020.
Oregon Ducks vs. USC Trojans Pac-12 Championship Betting Odds:
Oregon vs. USC Prediction:
USC hasn’t had much of a run game to speak of this season. That’s been the most disappointment with this team. The Trojans are generally known for having reliable running backs, going back decades. However, the run game has not seemed to click this season for them. I anticipated Stephen Carr having a big campaign, but he’s been just okay. The Trojans have gained only 109.2 yards per game on the ground. It has resulted in Kedon Slovis having to do it all with his arm.
Slovis has answered the call and is carrying the weight for USC. Slovis has passed for 15 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on 70.3% completions. The sophomore looks like the real deal and is likely going to put up some monster numbers next year. With a full schedule to work, Slovis will likely get more attention than he’s been getting from the media this season.
He’s coming off an impressive performance to lead USC over rival UCLA last week. Slovis passed for 344 yards with 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, as he was the catalyst for the comeback effort. Overall, USC has scored 35.2 points per game despite not getting much from the run game. That said, did the Trojans turn a corner on the ground against UCLA? Vavae Malepeai had a standout game, as he rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on 5.8 yards per carry.
That has been the exception for USC this season, but there is the potential that it carries over into this week against a Ducks team that has struggled to stop the run in 2020. Oregon has conceded 184.2 yards per game against the run. This looks like a spot where the Trojans should be able to have back-to-back games with a positive effort out of the backfield. That would take a lot of pressure off Slovis, but if he’s called on to zip it around plenty, he should win this battle.
The Trojans hold a big advantage at quarterback. Tyler Shough has been adequate, but will have to grow in the offseason for him to scare off defenses in 2021. Shough has passed for 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on 63.6% completions. If Oregon is forced to keep up with Slovis, then this is where USC can really assert themselves and pull away. I think it’s going to be close, though the difference is likely Slovis over Shough. Expect a 34-27 win for USC in the Pac-12 Championship.