Ducks clinch spot in Pac-12 title game with win

Fourth-ranked Oregon will clinch a place in the first Pac-12

Conference championship game with a victory over Southern

California on Saturday.

For Ducks coach Chip Kelly, the significance of the title game

depends on the eventual outcome.

”We’ve never been in it, so I can’t tell you,” he told

reporters earlier this week. ”If we go to it and lose, I’m going

to tell you it’s awful.”

After a 53-30 victory over Stanford last Saturday, Oregon needs

to win one of its last two games to advance to host the inaugural

league championship game on Dec. 2. The Ducks (9-1, 7-0) play the

Trojans this weekend before the annual Civil War matchup against

Oregon State, also at Autzen Stadium.

Should Oregon lose both games, Stanford (9-1, 7-1) could

represent the Pac-12 North Division for the title with a victory in

the Big Game against California this weekend. But with the way the

Ducks have been playing of late – and particularly in the victory

over the Cardinal – that seems unlikely.

In typical fashion, Kelly wasn’t jumping ahead. First up for the

Ducks are the No. 18 Trojans (8-2, 5-2).

”Nothing’s changed for us. Our formula for success is it’s a

one-week season,” he said.

While most see Oregon in the title game, the Pac-12 South is

totally up for grabs.

UCLA (5-5, 4-3) will play in the title game if its wins its

final two games against Colorado and USC. If the Bruins win just

one, they’ll need Arizona State and Utah to lose one of their final

games, too. The Sun Devils (6-4, 4-3) or the Utes (6-4, 3-4) would

have to win their remaining games to have a realistic chance.

Oregon has won the past two league championships, which in the

past were decided by the final regular season standings among 10

teams. The addition of Colorado and Utah to the conference this

season brought about the two divisions and the title game. The

Trojans can’t play for a Pac-12 championship this season because of

NCAA sanctions.

The winner of the title game gets an automatic bid to the Rose

Bowl against the Big Ten champion. However, if the Pac-12 champion

is ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the country in the final BCS standings,

then that team would go to the national championship.

Many Ducks fans were looking at the multitude of scenarios that

would send Oregon to New Orleans on Jan. 9. The latest BCS

standings have LSU ranked No. 1, followed by Oklahoma State,

Alabama and Oregon. The Ducks lost to LSU in the season opener.

”I feel like nobody on the team thinks about things like that.

We haven’t talked about national championships or BCS bowl games.

That’s far from our mindset right now,” safety Eddie Pleasant


Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley certainly helped the Ducks stay

focused on USC after a 40-17 victory over Washington last


”I think Oregon is very good this year,” he said. ”But I

think they were better when we played them in the past.”

Barkley also caused a stir before USC’s game against the Ducks

last season with a post to Twitter after Cain Velasquez defeated

Brock Lesnar in the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight

title bout. Barkley tweeted: ”Wow, Brock just got rocked! Lesnar

is to Oregon as Velasquez is to SC. Lezgo.”

He later deleted the post, explaining that he was just trying to

inspire his teammates. Oregon went on to beat the Trojans 53-32 at

the Coliseum.

Oregon running back LaMichael James, who leads the nation with

an average of 150.88 yards rushing per game, shrugged off Barkley’s

latest comments.

”That stuff really doesn’t matter. We’re not playing a team

from last year. We’re playing SC 2011, and they’re playing us

2011,” said James, who rushed for 239 yards and three touchdowns

against USC last season.