Trojans still have a shot at winning Pac-12 Conference South Division

Trojans still have a shot at winning Pac-12 Conference South Division
Quarterback Cody Kessler (6) and USC are still in the hunt for the Pac-12 Conference South Division title. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

USC was idle during the weekend, but the Trojans will return to practice this week with a better chance of winning the Pac-12 Conference South.

Arizona State's defeat by Oregon State at Corvallis, Ore., improved USC's prospects.


If USC defeats UCLA on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, and Arizona State loses to either Washington State or Arizona, the Trojans would win the South and advance to the conference championship game for the first time.

USC finished first in the South in 2011 but was ineligible to participate in the Pac-12 title game because of NCAA sanctions.

If UCLA defeats USC and Stanford, the Bruins will win the South.

USC improved to 7-3 overall and 6-2 in the Pac-12 with its 38-30 victory over California last Thursday.

"We're 2-0 in November," offensive lineman Zach Banner said after the game. "We've got to work on 3-0."

The Trojans conclude the regular season Nov. 29 against Notre Dame.

Action Jackson

Freshman Adoree' Jackson's return to offense might carry over to the UCLA game.

Jackson, a starting cornerback, also played receiver against Cal, the first time in six games he participated on offense.

Coach Steve Sarkisian said Jackson overcame nagging injuries during a bye week, and the Trojans utilized extra days of preparation to install a game plan that included him.

"Hopefully, we can continue to do that," Sarkisian said of utilizing Jackson on offense. "He's a dynamic player, especially when he has the ball in his hands. And he loves it. He was all for it."

Holding steady

Quarterback Cody Kessler remains fourth nationally in passing efficiency.

The junior has passed for 29 touchdowns, with only three interceptions.


Kessler is 12th nationally in passing yardage with 2,919.

Comeback trail

USC is hoping that linebacker J.R. Tavai and safety John Plattenburg will return for Saturday's game.

Tavai has been sidelined the last two games because of a knee sprain suffered against Utah on Oct. 25.

Plattenburg sat out the California game after suffering a thigh bruise during practice.

Tavai had started seven games before he was injured, Plattenburg three.

Quick hits

Saturday's game will kick off at 5 p.m. and will be televised by ABC.

Twitter: @latimesklein