LOS ANGELES — The road to Pasadena goes through Southern California.
The statement, which was still accurate before kickoff on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, was part of the Trojans’ pregame hype video.
USC opened the game with a 10-0 lead and appeared to be comfortably in the South Division driver’s seat with ownership of the head-to-head tiebreaker over Utah.
However, the Men of Troy’s designs on finishing the season with a Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl appearance, and perhaps of saving coach Clay Helton’s job, were put through the shredder during Oregon’s 56-24 romp.
The Ducks (8-1, 6-0) can barely see any North Division rivals in the rear-view mirror on the fast track to the Pac-12 title game, where a possible win over the Utes (8-1, 5-1) would make a Rose Bowl appearance a worst-case scenario.
After handing USC its worst home defeat in a decade, Oregon remained No. 7 in the Associated Press poll released Sunday. Utah, which won at Washington, moved up to No. 8.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott stated the obvious during a media scrum with reporters when asked about the conference’s only two ranked teams:
If Oregon and Utah are both one-loss teams entering a heavyweight title bout on Dec. 6 at Levi’s Stadium, the winner should be strongly considered for inclusion in the College Football Playoff.
The Ducks and Utes both have open dates this week and will be able to watch No. 1 LSU play at No. 2 Alabama.
Oregon will be a heavy favorites in its three remaining regular-season games against Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon State. Same story for Utah versus UCLA, Arizona and Colorado.
Mario Cristobal’s peers voted his team No. 7 in this week’s coaches poll.
The playoff selection committee, chaired by Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, will reveal its first rankings of the season on Tuesday.
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