Football

No. 15 in new College Football Playoff rankings

Read more at trojanswire.usatoday.com

The USC Trojans are No. 15 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, revealed Tuesday evening.

No one is discussing the Pac-12’s path to the College Football Playoff, because everyone knows that door has been closed for some time. Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida, Texas A&M, and Cincinnati are the programs in realistic contention for the four spots.

Alabama can knock Florida out of the playoff with a win in the Dec. 19 SEC Championship Game. Notre Dame can knock Clemson out of the playoff with a victory in the Dec. 19 ACC Championship Game. If Ohio State plays on Dec. 19, the Buckeyes could get knocked out of the playoff with a loss. Texas A&M would get knocked out with a loss to Tennessee. If these scenarios all occur, Cincinnati would have a realistic chance (though not a guaranteed berth). Those seven teams listed above are the only ones in playoff contention — not Miami (can’t win the ACC), not the Big 12 champion (sorry, Oklahoma), and not the Pac-12 champion or unbeaten Coastal Carolina.

USC has a clear-cut goal: Win the Pac-12. That would very likely deliver the Trojans to Glendale — a very short plane flight — for the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl. Earlier on Tuesday, USA TODAY Sports projected that USC (now the favorite to win the Pac-12 in light of the struggles being endured by Oregon and Washington) would indeed go to the Fiesta Bowl to play the Georgia Bulldogs. That matchup would pit USC against former Trojan J.T. Daniels in a spicy January confrontation.

The Trojans’ path to the Fiesta Bowl and the New Year’s Six — as the Pac-12’s sole representative of the NY6 group — is very simple: Beat UCLA this upcoming Saturday, and then win the Pac-12 Championship Game next Friday, Dec. 18. If the Trojans do beat UCLA to clinch the Pac-12 South title, they would host the Pac-12 title game next Friday. They would face the winner of this weekend’s de facto Pac-12 North title game between Oregon and Washington.

Read more at trojanswire.usatoday.com

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