The Pac-12 season has already begun, but now it will take on added dimensions. Washington visits UCLA on Friday night in Pasadena. It’s a game USC fans will be able to focus on, since it is a stand-alone game. Trojan fans can watch USC one night later in the Coliseum against Arizona State.
Will USC fans want UCLA to lose? Most probably will. However, there’s a reason to want a Bruin victory: It might help USC’s chances of making the Pac-12 Championship Game in December.
Before the season, no one seriously discussed Washington as a conference title contender. The Huskies might have been able to make some noise and briefly threaten the rest of the conference, but they weren’t viewed as a top-tier team. USC, Utah and Oregon were the three primary favorites in the Pac-12, with UCLA, Oregon State, and Washington State being the spoilers in the mix. Washington didn’t quite make the cut.
However, after a 4-0 start to the season, the Huskies look really good. Purely in terms of the eye test, they look like the best team in the conference. However, that assertion means very little for two obvious reasons:
Washington hasn’t played a road game yet.
Washington hasn’t played a good team yet.
UCLA might not be an especially good team, either. The Bruins have feasted on cupcakes to go 4-0. However, when two unbeaten teams play one month into the season, it’s a big deal. The winner will be 5-0 and will have to be taken seriously, at least to a degree. The loser immediately has its balloon punctured and will have no margin for error in the conference title race.
USC plays UCLA later this season, and the Trojans should have total confidence they will beat the Bruins. USC does not play Washington. Solely through that lens, it is to USC’s advantage to have UCLA beat the Huskies.
If Trojan fans just can’t bring themselves to root for UCLA, it’s totally understandable.
We’ll all be watching Friday night, and we’ll have coverage of this game on Saturday. Watch this space (and UW-UCLA on Friday night).