The winner of the USC-UCLA soccer game determines his own destiny and has a viable path to the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs.
let that sink
The crosstown rivalry will mean much more than bragging rights or bringing home the victory bell.
I’ve been ringing that bell for weeks now, trying to push Trojans and Bruins fans out of their comfort zones. The fanbases couldn’t be more different in many ways, but lately when both teams have shown surprising strength, it’s been shocking to see how much they have in common. They don’t want to get hurt, so they’d rather protect themselves from worrying about a national championship in the country’s second most popular sport.
For the USC folks, as excited as they are from Lincoln Riley’s rousing first season, the overwhelming sentiment is, “Yeah, this is fun, but we’re not good at playoff level yet, so why should we take our embarrassing hit against Georgia.” in a playoff semifinals when we could possibly win a meaningless New Year’s Six Bowl game? Caleb Williams will be back so next year is our year.”
For UCLA supporters, as emboldened as they are that Chip Kelly’s culture is suddenly snapping, they feel, “There’s no way we really deserve these legitimate football hopes. Basketball season has started and Pauley Pavilion is now selling beer and wine, did you hear?”
If Saturday’s results across the country don’t wake up LA college football fans and get them securing their tickets for the Nov. 19 showdown at the Rose Bowl, nothing will.
- No. 3 Georgia beat No. 1 Tennessee, 27-13, between the hedges in Athens, Georgia. The defending national champions recovered and handled the volunteers with ease.
- Later Saturday in South Bend, Indiana, Notre Dame No. 4 destroyed Clemson 35-14. The Tigers had been playing with fire all season, and now their playoff hopes are all but burned.
- In Baton Rouge, La., Brian Kelly sewed himself into Louisiana state lore in his first season in the bayou as the Tigers defeated No. 6 Alabama 32-31 with a brave two-point conversion in overtime upset. Even the Crimson Tide, with two losses, now have one error too many to capitalize on the CFP selection committee’s endless advantage of the doubt.
Within an hour Saturday night, Alabama and Clemson were virtually eliminated from playoff contention. That’s wild — and just what USC and UCLA fans needed (at least among those who rightfully allowed themselves to dream big).
The picture just got a lot clearer for the four-team playoffs, with the league game being played at SoFi Stadium on Monday, January 9th.
Georgia is in. With convincing victories against Oregon and Tennessee, the Bulldogs earned a shot at defending their title. You won’t lose twice from here.
The Ohio State-Michigan winner in Columbus on November 26 is in. The team that wins The Game and the Big Ten East title most likely won’t lose to the Big Ten West division champion next week.
Then consider two vacancies. The candidates:
No. 1 Tennessee (8-1)
No.4 Clemson (8-1)
No. 6 Alabama (7-2)
No.7 Texas Christian (9-0)
No.8 Oregon (8-1)
No. 9 USC (8-1)
No. 10 LSU (7-2)
No. 11 Mississippi (8-1)
No. 12 UCLA (8-1)
The Ohio State-Michigan loser
This list is very generous. For now, we can start eliminating any team with two losses. LSU and Alabama, thank you for an amazing football game Saturday night, but you’re out. Clemson was overrated from the start and won’t make it unless it’s Armageddon from here. Ole Miss’ path is extremely narrow (the Rebels have to win and lose LSU, then beat Georgia in the SEC title game — that doesn’t happen).
If TCU wins, it should be in. I don’t expect that to happen because the Horned Frogs are still playing in Baylor and Texas and will face another quality team in the Big 12 championship game. Based on the original #7 ranking, TCU cannot take a loss and advance to the playoff semifinals. (To be clear, USC and UCLA fans should take a very strong stand against TCU).
If TCU won, fourth place would go to the Pac-12 champion (assuming it’s a one-loss Oregon, USC, or UCLA) or one-loss Tennessee (assuming the Vols bounce later this month). not on).
A 12-1 USC or UCLA might feel very confident about their chances of being invited to the CFP over 11-1 Tennessee for the following reasons:
- The selection committee must evaluate Power Five conference champions if the resumes are comparable.
- Tennessee-Georgia was so one-sided that no one wants to see a rematch, and we must remember that the CFP’s job is to create compelling television programming for three coveted spots between the semifinals and the title game.
- The Vols are a good team and feel-good story, but their Alabama moment was cheapened by LSU’s Alabama moment. It’s clear to anyone who pays close attention that Alabama just isn’t elite in 2022, shocking as that may be.
Notre Dame’s win over Clemson helped USC in two ways. The Tigers are out of the way and the Fighting Irish would now be a top 25 win for the Trojans. It sets USC’s final stretch as UCLA’s top-10, Notre Dame’s top-25, and — if the Trojans beat the Bruins and Oregon wins — Oregon’s top-10. To me, USC is a playoff ban if it goes 12-1 anyhow.
If you don’t like to think in hypotheses, the flawed four-team playoff format isn’t for you.
Please don’t be confused: I’m not saying that USC and UCLA are great, standout teams that deserve an exalted place in their school annals. I say they have a crystal clear path to the playoff semifinals this year – a year when the championship happens to be held at SoFi Stadium.
November 19th can’t get here soon enough.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-11-06/ucla-usc-clear-path-college-football-playoff UCLA and USC have a clear path to the College Football Playoff