USC, UCLA Battle For Los Angeles In The 2020 Pac-12 Football Opener

Written By Derek Helling on August 4, 2020 - Last Updated on August 7, 2020

Los Angeles college football fans, you may get a special treat this fall.  The new 10-game, conference-only slate has USC and UCLA meeting to start off the season. While that’s a reason for excitement, it may be wise to reserve some enthusiasm.

The details on the new Pac-12 football schedule for CA teams

When the conference announced it wouldn’t play more than 10 games within its own ranks this fall, that created a need for some schedule revisions. For one thing, teams only had nine conference games on their existing dockets.

The Pac-12 splits its members into two divisions for football, north and south. The new format has each team playing the other five members of its own division, and five of the six teams in the other division.

The conference had to decide for each member who those five of six inter-division opponents would be. Additionally, it had to decide when those extra conference games would take place, and where.

The new schedule has ironed out all those details. A highlight for California football fans is that the USC-UCLA game is now their season opener and will take place on Sept. 26, at a time yet to be announced. Normally, the schools do not meet until November.

In addition to this schedule change, UC Berkeley now faces Arizona, and Stanford now faces Arizona State. The new north division opponents for UCLA and USC are Washington and Washington State, respectively.

To date, some sportsbooks are hesitating to offer action on the rescheduled USC-UCLA contest. It’s hard to blame them. The situation remains very fluid.

Why everything is still in somewhat of a holding pattern

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott laid out the uncertainty regarding the upcoming season. This uncertainty is a big reason sportsbooks in places like Las Vegas are currently hesitant to accept wagers on individual games for college football.

“I don’t know, I think we are all trying to take a step at a time. We are cautiously optimistic sitting here today. There are elements outside of our control that are going to have a lot of influence on that question. What’s happening in our communities? What’s happening on our campuses? A lot of that’s got to do with mask-wearing, social distancing. What happens when thousands of students come back to our campus? None of us have the answer to that question.”

Even if the season does begin as the conference intends on Sept. 26, that’s no guarantee everything will go smoothly from there. There could be postponements or key players who miss games due to positive COVID-19 testing.
Such instances could affect betting markets dramatically. It’s possible that books might wait until just a day or two before games to actually start accepting wagers.
While that might mean fans can bet with more confidence, it also means limited opportunities. Typically, the best odds on college football games appear earlier in the weeks leading up to the contests, before oddsmakers get the best feel for the games.
For now, it looks like USC and UCLA will open their seasons against each other. How much betting action Californians could see on that in Vegas later this month remains to be seen.
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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