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Pac-12 Changes Championship Game Format Beginning This Year

Five of the previous 11 matchups would have been different if teams with top winning percentages were used.

Beginning in December, the Pac-12's top two football teams by conference winning percentage — rather than solely finishing first in a division — will advance to the championship game, the league announced on Wednesday.

Had this format previously been used, five of the past 11 matchups would have been different. 

For instance, a Chris Petersen-coached University of Washington football team would have played Washington State in 2018 instead of Utah, which the Huskies beat 10-3.

In his second year as Pac-12 commissioner, George Kliavkoff has made it a personal mandate to upgrade conference football offerings however he can to make the league more competitive with the rest of the Power 5 landscape.

“Our goal is to place our two best teams in our Pac-12 football championship game, which we believe will provide our conference with the best opportunity to optimize CFP invitations and ultimately win national championships,” Kliavkoff said in a statement. “Today’s decision is an important step towards that goal and immediately increases both fan interest in, and the media value of, our Football Championship Game.”

The championship game change passed unanimously among the league's head football coaches, athletic directors and board of directors.

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Kliavkoff also has considered shortening the Pac-12's head-to-head schedule from 9 games to 8 to align with other conferences and improve the league's chances of sending teams to the Conference Football Playoff.

The top two teams by conference winning percentage will play for the Pac-12 championship on Dec. 2 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

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