USC football: Why isn’t the Pac-12 playing a full 11-game conference-only schedule?

USC football in the Pac-12. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
USC football in the Pac-12. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Why is USC football set to play 10 games in 2020 instead of a full 11-game Pac-12 schedule?

During the coronavirus pandemic response, USC football has lost three out of conference games and will reportedly add another. Why not two?

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News first reported the Pac-12 will play a 10-game conference-only schedule in 2020 last week but the official word is still forthcoming. That comes on the back of the conference formally nixing the non-conference slate.

USC’s games against Alabama, New Mexico and Notre Dame were canceled as a result.

Instead of simply moving forward with the existing nine-game conference schedule, the Pac-12 is set to add an extra conference game to the campaign. The Trojans will play Washington State while still missing Oregon State, according to Brett McMurphy of Stadium.

Why won’t USC football play all 11 other Pac-12 schools in 2020?

The question “why not 11 games if you’re going to play 10?” is a good one. However, the Pac-12 actually has some good logic behind their plan.

If the season is scheduled to begin on September 19, as reported, the conference would have 12 weeks to play before a potential conference title game the weekend of Dec. 11 (a week later than originally planned).

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Sure, under normal circumstances, that’s enough time to play 11 games with one bye week for each team. But these aren’t normal circumstances and the conference needs some wiggle room.

What happens if a team needs to go into quarantine (like Michigan State and Rutgers have had to do) and can’t play on a scheduled weekend? Building in a second bye week in that 12-week plan will allow games to be rescheduled as needed.

The extra week could also help if the season can’t begin as planned. It would be easy enough to push the Sept. 19 start to another open date if Fall Camp doesn’t begin in time.

The new schedule has to be built for ultimate flexibility. Missing out on that 11th Pac-12 game is a small price to play.

Admit it, you’re not crying over the lack of a contest against Oregon State (in terms of difficulty, landing rebuilding Washington State instead of upstart Oregon State may be an advantage in the end).

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The conference is hopeful of pulling off the 10 games that will be scheduled. Even then, Wilner’s sources kept the door open for a return to the nine-game slate if necessary.

According to Wilner, the Pac-12 presidents are scheduled to meet on Friday. News on the schedule plans is expected after that meeting.

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