The Pac 12 Championship Game will be played on Friday night inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. #13 USC (5-0) will host the Oregon Ducks (3-2) who didn’t expect to have a chance to compete for the Pac 12 title.
The Washington Huskies were supposed to play the Trojans, but COVID outbreaks throughout the team facility made them unavailable for Friday night. The Pac 12 replaced the Huskies with the Ducks giving Oregon a shot at the conference crown.
Oregon is a different team than Washington, but I would put both programs on the same level when it comes to talent. Oregon is the defending Pac 12 champions, so I guarantee that they’ll be ready to compete on Friday night in Los Angeles with the Trojans.
Pac 12 Championship Game – Oregon Ducks vs #13 USC Trojans
Friday, December 12th at 8:00 PM EST
Los Angeles Memorial Stadium
Moneyline: Oregon (+130) USC (-150)
Point Spread: Oregon (+3) USC (-3)
Over/Under: 64 Points
The Chance to Repeat
Oregon started the season with three straight victories over Stanford, Washington State, and UCLA. With three games left in the season, things couldn’t have been looking better for the Ducks. Unfortunately, they went on to drop back-to-back contests against Oregon State and Cal by a combined margin of seven points.
Their final game of the season was supposed to be played against the Washington Huskies. This game would’ve decided the winner of the Pac 12 North, but COVID ended both teams hopes of competing one week ago.
Without this game, Washington would’ve won the North outright allowing them to advance to the Championship Game. However, the team has still not passed COVID protocol which means they will be watching the Pac 12 Championship Game on FOX instead of being on the Coliseum sideline this Friday.
I know Oregon hasn’t won since November 21st, but they deserve to be in this football game. The Ducks have one of the most prolific offensive attacks in college football. The team is led by QB Tyler Shough, who has the 19th ranked QBR in the country. The sophomore sensation is throwing for just under 280 yards per game and has accounted for 13 total touchdowns in 2020.
Thriving Under Pressure
USC is 5-0 this year because nothing seems to phase the Trojans. They play team football, and it has shown in their ability to win close games in 2020. The team defeated Arizona State 28-27 in Week 1. The Trojan offense drove 55 yards in a little over a minute as time ticked away against the Sun Devils.
USC then took a road trip to Arizona in Week 2 and put together another game-winning drive. They went 75 yards in six plays and scored the game-winning touchdown with 25 seconds left in the contest.
The team’s most recent win was a five-point victory over in-state rival UCLA. The team was down 18 points and found a way to battle back with five touchdowns in the second half to secure a 43-38 victory over the Bruins.
USC has a strong offensive attack that’s led by QB Kedon Slovis. Slovis has thrown 15 touchdowns this season and has been instrumental in leading the Trojans from behind in the fourth quarter.
USC also has a three-headed monster in the backfield to accompany Slovis. Vavae Malepeai is the feature back along with Markese Stepp and Stephen Carr who play a strong supporting role. The three backs have combined for 514 yards and seven rushing touchdowns in 2020.
Pac 12 Championship – The Matchup
This game is going to come down to what defense can get off the field on third down and force field goals when the opposition works their way into the red zone. The USC and Oregon offense have done a lot for their teams this year. They are averaging 35.2 and 34.2 points respectively.
The total for this game is 64 so sportsbooks believe that there will be a lot of points going up on the scoreboard. USC favors the pass, but they have the ability to have success in the run game. Oregon is strong in the secondary, but they do struggle in the trenches.
It wouldn’t surprise me if USC comes into this game and tries to establish the line of scrimmage. Kedon Slovis has shown promise in his first two seasons as the guy under center for the Trojans, but a strong run game will give him an easier shot at exploiting the Ducks downfield.
I think Oregon will have the same thing in mind on Friday night. They’ll try to stay away from USC safety Talanoa Hufanga as long as they can when they’re on offense. Hufanga has fifty total tackles and four interceptions on his 2020 stat sheet.
However, the Oregon offensive line can maul opposing front sevens and I believe they have an advantage over the Trojans up front. They’ll be able to set up the pass if they can have success in the run game on early downs in order to make Tyler Shough comfortable. This will be Shough’s first start with a championship on the line.
Pac 12 Championship – The Picks
There are a few storylines to note in this game, but the one that stands above the rest is the defensive battle on Friday night. Both offenses are going to score so a few big stops could make the ultimate difference in deciding who takes home the conference title.
I think Oregon will be able to run the football, but USC is still going to take this game. They do have the second-ranked defense in the Pac 12 when it comes to the least amount of points allowed per game. Statistically, they give up yardage, but they stay strong in the red zone which is a key when two high-powered offenses compete.
Another reason that I love the Trojans is that they know how to win in the fourth quarter. This is something that you can’t teach a team to do because it must be learned. In five games, the Trojans have pulled out three nail biters which is a testament to the type of player that Head Coach Clay Helton has brought into his program.
The over is also calling my name on Friday night. These two sophomore quarterbacks are going to put on a show when the lights come on in the Pac 12 Championship Game. I think both offenses will have a lot of success, but the Trojans will have gotten the best of the Ducks when time expires on Friday night.
I’m taking USC at -3 and over 64 points
I will be previewing all the Power 5 Conference Championship Games on the Knup Sports and Sports 2.0 Network. Make sure to check out these sites and follow me on IG @tannerkern and Twitter @tannerkern_ for game previews, betting analysis, and the best stories from the sports world.
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