The Pac-12 pre-bowl season winds up this weekend with an unusual scheduling arrangement.
South Division champ Utah takes on North champ Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game at Las Vegas on Friday night. It’s a rematch of their Nov. 20 meeting in Salt Lake City, won by the Utes 38-7.
Despite that decisive outcome, one of our six voters put Oregon atop her poll. Perhaps a prediction of sorts for what will transpire in the second meeting. Utah secured the other five first-place votes and holds down the No. 1 spot for the second straight week.
UCLA is firmly at No. 3 after beating USC and Cal the past two weeks by a combined margin of 104 to 47.
The other unusual circumstance this weekend is that there will be a regular-season game played after the league championship game.
Cal and USC will finally square off at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night, three weeks after the game was rescheduled because of the Bears’ COVID-19 outbreak.
Our voters apparently don’t have a good handle on which team will prevail Saturday night. The Bears and Trojans, with identical resumes of 4-7 overall, 3-5 in conference play, wound up in a tie for seventh in our latest rankings.
It's been a tumultuous season at USC, and former Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley was announced Sunday as the Trojans' new coach.
But Riley won't be on the sidelines Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. Interim coach Donte Williams, who stepped in after Chip Helton was fired, will handle things for one more game.
SI PAC-12 FOOTBALL POWER RANKINGS
1. Utah (5) 9-3, 8-1 . . . 71 points
2. Oregon (1) 10-2, 7-2 . . . 68
3. UCLA 8-4, 6-3 . . . 60
4. Washington State 7-5, 6-3 . . . 52
5. Arizona State 8-4, 6-3 . . . 47
6. Oregon State 7-5, 5-4 . . . 45
7 tie. Cal 4-7, 3-5 . . . 30
7 tie. USC 4-7, 3-5 . . . 30
9. Colorado 4-8, 3-6 . . . 28
10. Washington 4-8, 3-6 . . . 19
11. Stanford 3-9, 2-7 . . . 12
12. Arizona 1-11, 1-8 . . . 8
DONNIE DRUIN, ALL SUN DEVILS
1. Utah; 2. Oregon; 3. UCLA; 4. Washington State; 5. Oregon State; 6. Arizona State; 7. USC; 8. Colorado; 9. Cal 10. Washington; 11. Stanford; 12. Arizona
Comment: We'll finally be getting our rematch of Oregon-Utah in the Pac-12 title game, as those are the two best schools in the conference. Can the Ducks fix their errors from round one on a neutral field? We'll find out. The entire conference is now on notice with USC hiring Lincoln Riley, which already Has the Trojans buzzing for next season. Time for the remaining schools in the conference to find their guy as well.
JAKE CURTIS, CAL SPORTS REPORT
1. Utah, 2. Oregon, 3. UCLA, 4. Washington State, 5. Arizona State, 6. Arizona State, 7. USC, 8. Cal, 9. Washington, 10. Colorado, 11. Arizona, 12. Stanford
Comment: I'd like to see UCLA play Utah or Oregon right about now to see how that would come out. I really think Arizona would beat Stanford today, so that's why the Cardinal is 12th despite having that win over Oregon, a result that seems completely implausible now.
MAX TORRES, DUCKS DIGEST
1. Utah; 2. Oregon; 3. UCLA; 4. Oregon State; 5. Washington State; 6. Arizona State; 7. USC; 8. Colorado; 9. Cal; 10. Washington; 11. Stanford; 12. Arizona
Comment: Oregon gets back on track by finishing the regular season undefeated at home, but still needs to conquer its demons with a rematch against Utah looming in the Pac-12 championship. Oregon State is positioned to be one of tougher teams in this conference after extending Jonathan Smith. A wild year in the Pac-12 showed glimpses of parity but proved to still be an incredibly weak conference overall.
SAM CONNON, ALL BRUINS
1. Utah; 2. Oregon; 3. UCLA; 4. Arizona State; 5. Washington State; 6. Oregon State; 7. Colorado; 8. Cal; 9. Washington; 10. USC; 11. Stanford; 12. Arizona
Comment: If only UCLA could have been this hot in October – when they lost games to Arizona State, Oregon and Utah – then they could actually be in contention right now. A big part of their season-ending surge has had to do with a light schedule to finish of the year, though, so it’s tough to tell if they’ve really improved or are just taking advantage of lesser competition. I guess the upcoming bowl game will determine if the Bruins really could have competed with the Ducks or Utes at this point in the season.
CLAUDETTE PATTISON-MONTANA, ALL TROJANS
1. Oregon; 2. Utah; 3. UCLA; 4. Washington State; 5. Arizona State; 6. Oregon State; 7. Cal; 8.USC; 9. Colorado; 10. Washington; 11. Stanford; 12. Arizona
Comment: The USC Trojans get one last chance to try and salvage their 2021 season by ending the year with a win against the Cal Bears. The Men of Troy will not be bowl eligible after losing to the BYU Cougars.
DAN RALEY, HUSKY MAVEN
1. Utah; 2. Oregon; 3. UCLA; 4. Washington State; 5. Arizona State; 6. Oregon State; 7. Cal; 8. Colorado; 9. USC; 10. Stanford; 11. Arizona; 12. Washington
Comment: By the end of the season, Washington was incapable of beating anyone in the conference. So in my mind the Huskies are last in our power rankings. So much for being the 20th-ranked team in the nation, which seems like a football lifetime ago. This is what happens when your head coach lasts only nine games into the schedule. When your offensive coordinator has an earlier exit. When you can't stop the run and you throw four interceptions in the rivalry game. Oh, what a mess.
Cover photo of future USC coach Lincoln Riley