UCLA to play for Pac-12 title

As unlikely as it may seem, UCLA is headed to the Pac-12 title game.

The Bruins, a team that has sputtered off and on all season and whose coach seemed to come perilously close to losing his job, clinched a spot in the inaugural conference title game before even playing USC Saturday by virtue of Colorado's 17-14 upset victory at Utah Friday.

The loss eliminated the Utes (7-5, 4-5) and UCLA (6-5, 5-3) holds a tiebreaker over Arizona State (6-5, 4-4) so no matter what happens when UCLA plays USC Saturday night, the Bruins will play at Oregon on Dec. 2 in the Pac-12 title game.

Oregon won Saturday against Oregon State, meaning the title game will be in Eugene, Ore.

"One of the goals we established as a team when we entered camp this fall was to play for the first-ever Pac-12 title," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said in a statement after learning of the Colorado victory. "Keeping in mind that we are still focused on beating USC tomorrow night, we are certainly excited to represent the South Division on December 2nd in the conference championship game."

UCLA will still be playing USC (9-2, 6-2) for a share of the Pac-12 South title and Neuheisel and his players were adamant this week about not wanting to get to the title game through the back door, but Colorado had other plans. USC is not eligible to participate in the conference title game because of NCAA sanctions.

Peter Yoon covers UCLA for ESPNLosAngeles.com.