The game on Saturday afternoon at the Rose Bowl between the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins already has enough importance, as the two teams are playing for the Pac-12 South Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. But for the Bruins, they have an outside shot at hosting the conference title game.
The second Pac-12 Championship Game will be played on Friday, Nov. 30 at 5 p.m. PT on Fox. The game will be held at the site of the team with the better conference record between division winners. We are down to a final four of sorts in the conference, with both pairs of division rivals squaring off this Saturday.
The Oregon Ducks (10-0, 7-0) are No. 2 in the BCS and No. 1 in both the AP and coaches polls, and have their sites set higher than just the Rose Bowl. But before they can head to the BCS Championship Game in Miami they have to first clinch the Pac-12 North Division. The Ducks can do just that with a win over the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal (8-2, 6-1) on Saturday in Eugene.
The Cardinal have their division hopes still alive, and they control their own destiny as well. Stanford will host the Pac-12 title game with wins in their final two regular season games, over Oregon and UCLA, both on the road; or if the Cardinal beat Oregon and Oregon State beats the Ducks on Nov. 24.
The Oregon State Beavers (7-2, 5-2) have a chance to create a three-way tie in the north, but they would be eliminated in that best case scenario. The first tiebreaker in a multiple-team tie is head-to-head record against tied teams. In this scenario, Oregon would be eliminated with their 0-2 record against the Cardinal and Beavers (in their last two games), leaving Stanford and Oregon State. Stanford's 27-23 win over the Beavers last week would give the Cardinal the north division.
For USC (7-3, 5-3), their path is simple. Beat the Bruins, and they are in the Pac-12 title game. But since the north winner will have at least seven conference wins, the Trojans would be the road team either heading to Eugene or Palo Alto.
The three-team tie scenario, or even just a two-team tie between Oregon and Stanford, is what UCLA (8-2, 5-2) needs to host the conference championship. The Bruins would need to win their final two contests, home games against USC and Stanford, and need Oregon to lose to both Stanford and Oregon State.
It has been a dream season so far for the Bruins in their first year under head coach Jim Mora. Might that dream continue with yet another home game on Nov. 30 against Stanford (which would make back-to-back home games against the Cardinal)?
Stranger things have happened.