Nearly every forecast of the Pac-12 football season called for a rematch of a November contest in the conference championship game.
It’s just that everybody thought it would be Oregon vs. USC, not Stanford vs. UCLA.
That’s exactly what will happen, if Stanford beats the Bruins on the road Saturday. The teams would meet again Nov. 30 at Stanford with a Rose Bowl berth at stake.
That’s the fallout of Saturday’s upsets, UCLA’s 38-28 win over USC and Stanford’s 17-14 overtime defeat of Oregon.
The effect in the AP Top 25 is illustrated in this week’s rankings: Oregon No. 5, Stanford No. 11, UCLA No. 15 and Oregon State No. 16. USC fell out of the rankings.
UCLA has clinched the Pac-12 South title; Stanford needs another victory to claim the North crown, assuming Oregon wins at Oregon State. In that case, the Cardinal would host the championship game, based on a better conference record than UCLA.
If Oregon wins and Stanford loses, the Ducks would host UCLA. But if there’s a three-way tie for the North title (involving OSU), Stanford would advance to the title game – at UCLA, because that would mean the Bruins beat Stanford in the regular season.
Got all that?
The bottom line is that everything is in place for the strangest possible scenario in the Pac-12 title game: a rematch six days later, with Oregon and USC nowhere to be found.
The situation brings UCLA’s motivation for Saturday’s game into some degree of question, although the Bruins know that a sequence of events could enable them to host the title game.
Meanwhile, Arizona State (6-5) became the Pac-12’s eighth bowl-eligible team with a rout of Washington State. Utah (4-7) is not mathematically eliminated, even after its 34-24 loss to Arizona, because of a new provision that allows bowls to select 5-7 teams if absolutely necessary. But besides beating Colorado on Friday, the Utes would need a bunch of five-win teams to lose next weekend.</