December 2, 2011. Auzten Stadium. The Pac-12 football world looked to Eugene, Ore., as the inaugural Pac-12 championship game between the Oregon Ducks and UCLA Bruins got underway. The Pac-12 conference had never hosted such a game to determine the conference’s representative in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
The Ducks went on a tear, winning the game by a final of 49-31. The game was lopsided. The Bruins looked overmatched and the Ducks punched their ticket to the Rose Bowl. LaMichael James was named the MVP.
And so, this weekend, we could see a preview of this year’s Pac-12 championship game. This will be the first time the Bruins have met the Ducks on the gridiron since 2011, and they will no doubt be looking for revenge. UCLA (5-1 overall, 2-1 Pac-12) is coming off a key loss to Stanford but figures to be in good standing in the Pac-12 South.
Arizona State (5-2, 3-1) is currently tied in the loss column in the Pac-12 South standings and also lost to the Cardinal this season. The Pac-12 South’s representative will most likely be the winner of the UCLA-Arizona State game, played on Nov. 23 in Pasadena.
Assuming Oregon can escape the physicality of the Bruins with a win, the Ducks will be favored to win the Pac-12 North. The Nov. 7 matchup between Oregon and Stanford (6-1, 4-1) will also be a critical matchup for the Pac-12. Oregon will also have to find a way to beat the surging Oregon State Beavers at the end of the season, who are currently undefeated so far in conference play. However, OSU must still play Stanford, Arizona State, Washington and USC.
The UCLA Bruins have looked strong so far and have solidified themselves as contenders in the Pac-12 behind quarterback Brett Hundley. One area that the Bruins have improved in greatly is halftime adjustments. The Bruins have outscored their opponents 74-14 in the third quarter of play this season.
Count on the Bruins to find themselves in their third-straight Pac-12 championship game this year, once again looking for a way to punch their ticket to the Rose Bowl.
Be sure to watch closely this weekend. Dec. 7, the day of the third annual Pac-12 championship game, is coming.