Pac-12 football schedule is out. Our coverage on Trojans Wire has tapped into some of the leading storylines.
USC receive a good one schedule. Two games in particular must tell the story for the Trojans. Several Pac-12 South games does not involve USC worthy of attention. We’ll continue to slowly dismantle our thinking about this schedule – we have a few months to go before the September season opening – and in this particular section, we’ll explore the biggest division crossover game in the Pac-12 this fall.
Spoiler alert: USC is not involved.
It just makes sense, right? The Trojans haven’t played Oregon or Washington this season. Their toughest match against Pac-12 North in 2021 will probably be the September game against Stanford.
Oregon State can be an interesting game, but Beavers is not part of the power elite in the North. California’s numbers have dropped this year after failing to win the brass ring in 2020, when many thought the Gold Bears had a chance of winning the division. Washington State is rebuilding. Stanford is probably the most exciting crossover game for USC by default, but with Oregon and Washington being the favorites in 2021 North, that means USC’s list of crossovers is anything but sexy (not that the Trojans will mind – they have to go 4 -0 against North this year) .
The biggest Pac-12 crossover game in 2021 doesn’t involve USC. Let’s give this short list:
- Oregon at UCLA, October 23. The Ducks nearly lost to the Bruins in 2020. Chip Kelly had reason to think he could beat his former employer this year. Oregon doesn’t play Arizona State in 2021, so this is one of the Ducks’ two very important games against rivals Pac-12 South. UCLA played this game one week after a road trip to Washington. If the Bruins lose in Seattle, this game will be a must for them. Oregon doesn’t have an easy November schedule, so bagging a win here at the end of October would mean a lot to the Ducks.
- Arizona State in Washington, November 13. Sun Devils and Huskies are both seen as Pac-12 contenders in 2021. That, in itself, makes this game circle on the calendar. What adds to the inherent drama of this game is that it takes place in mid-November, after each team has faced a very tough test. Arizona State played this game a week after hosting USC. Washington played this game after Stanford-Oregon’s two back-to-back goals. It will be a game of survival, or a game that will earn a ticket to a Championship Pac-12 Match – perhaps the first, but possibly the last. USC clearly expects the former.
- Oregon in Utah, November 20. Utah will almost certainly be seen as the Pac-12 South team’s third place in the pre-season Pac-12 polls, behind first-place USC and second-place Arizona State. However, if Utes crosses the line and pulls off a surprise, this game could be a problem for those in the division title race. More important, of course, is the corner of Oregon. The Ducks – two weeks after visiting Washington – head to Salt Lake City in late November, where the weather can be bad. Utah may struggle for most of the season, but may find its sea legs later in the journey (as it did last season in 2020). The game is incredibly tough for the UOs even if Utah doesn’t have a great start to finish season. Utes may increase as the game rolls around.
- Stanford in Arizona State, October 8. Although USC doesn’t have Friday matches this year, a blessed event, Arizona State has Friday’s home date with Stanford. This was a short week after ASU faced UCLA in a big game in the South. If ASU can get past the UCLA-Stanford 2-0 period, it will set the Sun Devils up for a USC match in early November and give Herm Edwards a legitimate chance of claiming the Pac-12 South title.
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