Will USC beat Utah? What was Caleb Williams’ Heisman moment?
Bolch: With apologies to Lee Corso, not so fast, my friends. If everybody agrees that Michigan has the best win of the college football season with that resounding triumph over Ohio State, then let’s give the Buckeyes credit for being in position to boost the Wolverines’ standing. In my mind, if the Trojans stumble Friday, one-loss Ohio State should be in the CFP over a team that would have lost twice to Utah.
McCollough: I will credit the great Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports with this thought, which he presented in a column this week: Georgia, Michigan, TCU and USC should be locked into the playoff, and this championship weekend only counting for seeding. His reasoning, which I agree with, is that if these are the top four after 13 weeks and the two teams behind them in the rankings (presumably Ohio State and Alabama) are not playing this weekend and therefore can’t win their way in, the field should be set. Do I think the selection committee would choose 11-2 USC that is not the Pac-12 champion over 11-1 Ohio State? It’s iffy, but it may depend on how USC loses in that scenario. If it’s another heartbreaking loss to the Utes in the final minutes, there’s definitely an argument the Trojans performed better in the biggest game of their season than Ohio State did in getting throttled at home by Michigan, 45-23. That said, my gut says USC would be out of the playoff if it loses Friday.
Kartje: All due respect to that line of thinking, but I firmly believe a second defeat to Utah should disqualify USC from the playoff conversation. I’d be absolutely gobsmacked if it worked out any other way. Why have the conference title games if we’re conceding that they’re only for CFP seeding? Ohio State made it to the final game of its regular season without dropping a single game, then lost to a much better team than Utah. Both teams beat Notre Dame. Is a win over UCLA better than a win over Penn State? I certainly don’t think so.
All of those hypotheticals aside, none of this matters if USC beats Utah and wins the Pac-12 title. Which it will.
Nguyen: Win and you’re in for USC. But a loss should drop the Trojans out and continue the Pac-12’s playoff drought. A two-loss, non-Pac-12 champion USC shouldn’t be given a spot over Ohio State just because the Big Ten still uses its divisions to decide the championship matchup, thus eliminating Ohio State’s chance for a rematch against Michigan in the conference title game.