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
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
Oregon running back LaMichael James, who leads the nation with
an average of 150.88 yards rushing per game, shrugged off Barkley’s
”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.