Pac-12 Championship: Oregon vs. USC odds, preview, and pick
The Pac-12 Conference Championship Game is set to take place on Friday, Dec. 18, and while there have been plenty of twists in the road, it will feature the two teams oddsmakers picked well before the season began.
The route that the Oregon Ducks and USC Trojans took to arrive at this game is a story in itself, but regardless of the wholly unique circumstances, we get to enjoy the two most talented teams in the conference with the Trojans narrowly favored against the Ducks.
Sat, December 19 2020, 1:00 AM
Washington's loss is Oregon's gain
The Ducks are just 3-2 on their short season (2-3 ATS), and have lost their last two games as big favorites to Oregon State and California. They have been extended an invitation simply because Washington is unable to field a 53-man roster due to a COVID-19 outbreak among its players.
Stanford is also 3-2 in the Pac-12 North Division and is actually on a three-game win streak, but because Oregon defeated Stanford in Week 1, it holds the head-to-head tiebreaker for second place and thereby moves into the spot on those grounds.
USC, meanwhile, is 5-0 on the season (3-2 ATS), but has been fortunate to avoid second-place Colorado in the Pac-12 South. Neither team has the look of a dominant conference champion, but alas, here we are.
USC has been lucky
USC has benefitted from playing three of its five games against teams that were playing their season opener. Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah were all trying to get up to speed when they faced the Trojans. Furthermore, USC has had three of its games come down to the final quarter, after losing throughout the majority of the game.
Just last week against UCLA, the Trojans were down 18 points before roaring back to win thanks to some atrocious late defense from the Bruins. Despite their good fortune, USC is just 29th in the country in points per play, 12 spots behind Oregon. They are also tied for second in the nation in turnover margin per game, a trend that is mostly a result of luck more so than skill.
Can Oregon's defense step up?
Oregon's offense has been relatively efficient despite the team’s 3-2 record, but their weakness has come on defense, most notably in stopping opposing offenses on the ground. In their loss against Oregon State, the Ducks were bullied at the line of scrimmage and were incapable of getting any of the critical stops necessary.
Fortunately for them, the USC rushing attack averages only 109 yards per game. If Oregon's defense can show some degree of competency against USC’s passing attack and rising sophomore quarterback Kedon Slovis, they should be in a good position to spring the upset.
Oregon will pull off the upset
Oregon enters this game on a downswing and with bettors feeling like they don’t deserve their spot. USC is the 5-0 team that many perceive to have superior talent, but that isn’t really the case, and the Trojans are fortunate to have an unblemished record at this point.
Will USC cover the spread against Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game?
The Ducks are 5-2 ATS in their last seven matchups against the Trojans, and are more than capable of pulling off a minor upset if they simply take care of the ball. Look for Oregon to win as short underdogs.
Score prediction: Oregon 35, USC 31