Who should USC want to face in the 2017 Pac-12 Championship Game?

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Luke Falk
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Luke Falk /

Who should USC want to face in the 2017 Pac-12 Championship Game? The Reign of Troy staff sounds off on Washington State, Washington and Stanford.

USC’s ticket to the 2017 Pac-12 Championship Game has already been punched, after wrapping up the South with a win over Colorado.

Now, while the Trojans take on UCLA in the annual rivalry game and finally enjoy their bye week, USC must simply wait to find out who they will face in Santa Clara on Dec. 1.

Over the next two weeks, Washington State, Washington and Stanford will finish out their seasons to decide to North’s champion. If the Cougars beat the Huskies, they’re in. If the Huskies beat the Cougars and the Cardinal prevail over rival Cal, they’re in. If Stanford loses to the Bears in that second scenario, Washington is in.

Here’s who the Reign of Troy staff thinks USC’s best opponent in the title game would be:

Michael Castillo:

There’s only one answer here. It’s anyone but Washington.

While the Huskies have disappointed this season, with less-than-impressive losses at Arizona State and Stanford, they still have the highest ceiling of any team in the Pac-12, perhaps save for USC.

Their offensive firepower is strong with Jake Browning, Myles Gaskin and Dante Pettis, and they boast the nation’s top-ranked defense in yards per play at 3.92, while sitting as the No. 2 defense in S&P+.

They are without a doubt the team most suited for beating the Trojans, especially when compared to a Stanford squad USC already beat by three scores, and a Washington State team they should’ve beaten despite being without three starters on the offensive line.

Not to mention, if there’s any smidgen of hope at an opportunity to get into the College Football Playoff, avenging a 30-27 loss to WSU would be the Trojans’ best option.

Alicia de Artola:

USC’s favored opponent for the Pac-12 title game should be Washington State, no question.

The Cougars would give the Trojans their best possible chance of sneaking into the playoff, as the highest-ranked of the three possible opponents. USC needs a marquee win on their resume and Washington State is as good as they’re going to get.

Plus, WSU gave USC one of their two losses and avenging that loss under more favorable circumstances, specifically with a healthy offensive line and not coming on a short week after a road trip, could play well with the playoff committee.

USC may have already beaten Stanford, but keeping a relative lid on Bryce Love twice in one season may be asking too much. And after getting the gameplan so right against David Shaw last time, it won’t be so easy in Round 2.

Washington would have been a fun matchup before their loss to Stanford, with playmakers and a solid defense, but questions of quality. Having fallen to two losses though, the Huskies simply don’t offer enough value to be a desired opponent.

All three Pac-12 North opponents have vulnerabilities for the Trojans to exploit and I expect USC to be favored regardless of opponent. Washington State is simply the one that comes with the biggest benefits.

Alex Polk:

The preferred opponent for USC would be the Washington State Cougars.

The reason for them over Washington is two-fold. The first is that the USC offense matches up better with the Cougar defense than the Huskies. When USC made the trip to the Pullman in September they were not as good offensively as they are now. There were also a litany of injuries to the offensive line, forcing freshman into action.

Now USC has worked a lot more on their man blocking schemes and they should do a better job against the undersized cougars front.

Tee Martin also seems to better about getting Ronald Jones II involved, and how he gets him involved.

The second reason is simple, they upset the Trojans, rushed the field and threatened Liam Jimmons with a felony charge. USC needs revenge.

They’re also the higher ranked team in the playoff so it’ll look better in that sense, but mostly for revenge.

Chris Scondi:

USC’s possible choices in the Pac-12 Championship games are:

No. 14 Washington State, who the Trojans lost to 30-27.No. 18 Washington, whose only victory against a team with a winning record is Montana State.No. 22 Stanford, who the Trojans beat 42-24.

With these choices, it may be surprising who USC should want to play in the Pac-12 Championship: Washington State.

The Trojans may be able to stop Bryce Love again, but I don’t want to take a chance. USC doesn’t fare well in rematches against Stanford in Levi’s Stadium.

More from Reign of Troy

The idiom “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” doesn’t seem like it applies to this Washington Huskies team, but who knows, this may finally be the time Jake Browning shows up in a big game.

As long as the Trojans don’t play in Pullman with three backups, including two true freshmen, on their offensive line, they should be able to handle the Cougars in a potential rematch.

With Washington State being the highest ranked team of the three potential opponents, USC beating them in the Pac-12 championship game could boost their very slim chances for a playoff spot. The Trojans could show the selection committee that the first matchup was a fluke brought on by a short week and an abundance of injuries.

TRENDING: What USC’s Lessons from Colorado Mean vs. UCLA

A win in the Pac-12 Championship against the Cougars would offset the loss in Week 5. That means USC would only have one loss on the year. The selection committee can’t leave a one loss conference champion out of the playoff.