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BYU may have made it easier for USC to win the Pac-12 next season

The Cougars and Trojans were scheduled to play in 2023, before BYU joined the Big 12 conference

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Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams (13) greets running back Austin Jones (6) on the field during the first half of the Cotton Bowl NCAA college football game against Tulane, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Arlington, Texas.

Sam Hodde, AP

In a twist of fate, BYU football may have given the USC Trojans a leg up next season when it comes to competing for the Pac-12 championship.

The Cougars and Trojans were slated to play against one another in 2023, on Nov. 25 in the Trojans’ regular season finale.

That isn’t happening anymore, due to BYU’s scheduling commitments with the Big 12 (the Cougars’ 2023 schedule has yet to be released, although according to FBS Schedules, BYU will play Sam Houston State, Southern Utah and Arkansas to start the season).

Per The Mercury News’ Jon Wilner, USC had two options to replace the lost game against BYU:

  • Find an opponent to play Week 3 and play 12 consecutive games without a bye.
  • Keep Week 3 open and replace the BYU game with a game Week 0.
  • (Finding another opponent for the Nov. 25 season finale was apparently untenable).

The Trojans opted for the Week 0 approach — USC will host San Jose State on Aug. 26 — and this is where BYU benefitting USC comes in.

Thanks to the Cougars needing to cancel the game with the Trojans, USC will now have a bye week ahead of the Pac-12 championship game this season, whereas their chief competition in the conference — Oregon, Utah, Washington, Oregon State and UCLA — all play the final weekend of the regular season, in some cases against heated rivals.

Utah hosts Colorado, Oregon hosts rivals Oregon State, Washington hosts rival Washington State and UCLA hosts California. Utah, Washington and UCLA would enter the Pac-12 title game on a short week as well, if any finish with a top 2 record in the conference.

Of course, USC making it to the Pac-12 title game is anything but guaranteed.

The Trojans have one of the most difficult schedules in the conference, with home games against Stanford, Arizona, Utah, Washington, UCLA, plus road games against Arizona State, Colorado, California and Oregon.

(USC also plays Notre Dame, San Jose State and Nevada).

USC and UCLA are slated to leave the Pac-12 conference ahead of the 2024 season — and join the Big Ten — making next year the final year the Trojans and Bruins will play in the conference they helped found.