USC to face Oregon in Pac-12 Championship after Washington withdraws

The Huskies lacked the minimum number of scholarship players to compete Friday.

USC will now face Oregon in Friday’s Pac-12 Championship, the conference announced Monday. The Pac-12 North’s runner-up is taking the place of its champion Washington, who does not have the minimum number of available scholarship players due to positive COVID-19 cases.

Washington does not have a single offensive lineman that would be available to play on Friday, according to Huskies’ head coach Jimmy Lake.

Washington’s COVID-19 outbreak began last week, when it was forced to cancel its trip to Oregon. The outcome of that game would have decided the North division winner, but without the result, Washington advanced given its better conference record.

“Unfortunately, we have continued to see positive cases over the course of the last several days which has continued our pause of activities and ability to return to the practice field,” Washington head football physician Kim Harmon said in a statement.

With the opponent change coming well in advance of the game, the Trojans have the rest of the week to prepare for Oregon, their third opponent in a 13-day span. The Ducks went 3-2 in the regular season and are coming off two narrow losses to Oregon State and Cal before their canceled game against Washington.

Oregon was previously set to face Colorado Saturday, and it’s unclear whether the Buffaloes will still play a seventh game.

Last season, Oregon handily defeated USC 56-24 at the Coliseum and went on to win the Pac-12 Championship and the Rose Bowl Game. But the Ducks have struggled this year, while the Trojans enter the contest with a perfect 5-0 record.

The conference championship game kicks off 5 p.m. Friday at the Coliseum.