Nobody predicted this. The Pac-12 Championship was supposed to feature at least one of the two Pac-12 favorites. The USC Trojans opened as the preseason No. 1 team in the nation, and the Oregon Ducks would undoubtedly be in the chase for the Pac-12 title.
But on Friday, the No. 8 Stanford Cardinal sans Andrew Luck and the No. 16 UCLA Bruins under first-year head coach Jim Mora will play at The Farm for the conference championship. It'll be a rematch of the regular season finale, when Stanford's senior day saw the Cardinal (10-2) drop the Bruins (9-3) by a score of 35-17.
UCLA will get a shot at redemption and a Rose Bowl berth for a bowl game homecoming just a year after finishing 6-8 under coach Rick Neuheisel. The Bruins quietly moved up in the Pac-12 this year, and their win against USC on Nov. 17 was the announcement that they were here to play for the Pac-12 South.
Meanwhile, Stanford has shaken off the loss of stellar quarterback Andrew Luck to the NFL with a two-loss season, one such slipup coming against now-No. 1 Notre Dame. And like the Bruins, the Cardinal went through the preseason favorite in its division, beating Oregon on the same day UCLA upset the Trojans.
Time: Friday, 5 p.m. PT