All that remains before the College Football Playoff Committee selects the four teams that will play for a national title are two regular season weeks and Championship Saturday. Teams like the Georgia Bulldogs and the TCU Horned Frogs are in the driver's seat of their destiny: win out and they're in. Then there are the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines who have a head-to-head matchup in the final week of the regular season that will not only decide who will make the Big Ten title game but who will possibly qualify for the College Football Playoff. That's when the drama starts.
The Trojan Dark Horse
There are a handful of teams that are vying for the fourth seed, and potential third seed, in the College Football Playoff.
- The Tennessee Volunteers could end the season with an 11-1 record with their only loss being at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs but have wins over the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers.
- You have the LSU Tigers, who started off the season on the wrong foot but could potentially be the SEC Champ with an 11-2 record and wins over Alabama and Georgia.
- The loser of the Ohio State and Michigan game will fall into this spot. Ohio State has been one of the more dominant teams all season and their wins over Notre Dame and Penn State look better each week. Then there is Michigan, whose non-conference was weak and would have a win against Penn State only.
Then you have the USC Trojans.
With the losses suffered by UCLA and Oregon, the Trojans are the only team left for the Pac-12 to have a representative in this year's College Football Playoff. While some argue the Pac-12 is too weak or that other teams have a better resume, I am here to tell you that by season's end, they may not be true.
Up until now, the Trojans have had one of the better offenses in college football. In 7 of 9 wins, USC has scored 41 or more points. In one of those wins—in which they had one of their worst offensive performances—they beat the Oregon State Beavers, who are currently ranked 23rd in the College Football Playoff Rankings that were released Tuesday Night. So, they do have a win over a current Top 25 team.
The USC Trojans have one loss this season and that loss came at the hands of the Utah Utes who are currently ranked 10th in the College Football Playoff Rankings. This meeting of these two teams was one of the best games we have seen in all of college football this year. A two-point conversion that gave Utah a one-point victory is the only thing keeping the Trojans from being undefeated this year and ranked higher in the Playoff Rankings.
The Final Stretch
The USC Trojans are in the driver's seat of the Pac-12's chances of making the College Football Playoff. Of all the teams that are competing and fighting for the final one or two spots in The Playoff, they have the best end-of-season resume.
- This Saturday the Trojans take on the UCLA Bruins who are currently ranked 16th in the College Football Playoff rankings. A win gets them into the Pac-12 Title Game.
- Next week USC takes on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish that are currently ranked 18th. A win would be a second straight win over a currently ranked Top 25 opponent, and their third of the year.
- In the Pac-12 Conference Championship Game, they'll take on another Top 25 opponent that could consist of the Oregon Ducks, the streaking Washington Huskies, or in a revenge game, the Utah Utes.
If the USC Trojans run the table in these final three games, the committee ABSOLUTELY has to award the one-loss, Pac-12 Champion USC Trojans a spot in the College Football Playoff. The point of the rankings and the committee who selects these rankings is for three purposes: selecting the four teams to play in The Playoff itself, getting the best matchups for the New Year's Six Bowl Games, and lastly, building or tearing down resumes.
The rankings of UCLA, Notre Dame, and potentially Utah, Oregon, or Washington are not from the AP Poll selected by writers. Their rankings are not from the Coaches Poll. Their rankings are created by the Playoff Committee—the same committee that decides whether or not the USC Trojans get into the College Football Playoff. In this case, I cannot see the committee making the mistake of leaving the Trojans out in any scenario. They have created the storyline and the path for USC to prove itself and if they were to leave them out, it would give the committee a very bad look. I mean this is the whole point of the rankings at this point, right?
No matter what, the USC Trojans should get over any of the above-mentioned teams. Their one loss would be ranked higher in terms of quality, especially if they get revenge. Their non-conference schedule rivals that of three others (Michigan, Tennessee, and LSU), and their end of season stretch is one that is not very common with three straight ranked opponents that are selected by the committee. And of course, they would be the Pac-12 Conference Champion.
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