If USC Loses Pac-12 Championship, Can Alabama, Ohio State Make CFP?

Alabama and Ohio State fans should pay close attention to how USC fares against Utah in Friday night’s Pac-12 championship game.

After the college football playoff picture takes shape, bottom in the four-team field will likely be USC, Ohio State, or possibly Alabama.

Georgia, Michigan and TCU all go into their conference championship games 12-0. One would expect these to be the top three teams entering Tuesday night’s penultimate College Football Playoff rankings, possibly in that order. While the Dawgs, Wolverines and Frogs could all afford a title fight loss, the same cannot be said of USC in the Pac-12.

So… what happens when the Trojans fall to the Utah Utes for the second time this season on Friday?

Can Alabama or Ohio State Reach the College Football Playoffs With a USC Loss?

While one could argue for Tuesday night’s top spot for Michigan over Georgia, No. 4 will be USC, No. 5 will likely be Ohio State, and moving up to No. 6 could be Alabama.

With the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide not playing championship weekend, they will await what happens in Las Vegas on Friday night to know their fate in the playoffs. If USC wins, it’s over…

A Pac-12 runner-up USC team with two losses that fell to Utah twice in one season does not make the college football playoffs. If they had fallen to another Pac-12 team like Oregon, Washington or whoever, things could be different. Put simply, USC must beat Utah in Las Vegas on Friday to make the college football playoffs for the first time ever.

Should the Trojans lose, the Buckeyes are likely able to secure last place. They may have floundered in the fourth quarter against Michigan, but this is one of the best losses of the season for a major college football playoff contender. Ohio State would need Michigan to beat Purdue in Indianapolis, but they’re the best team with an outside chance to get in.

As for Alabama, they’re the best two-loss non-divisional champion that’s still kind of in this thing. Oh, the Crimson Tide is going to make Bama one of the bottom two teams, despite losing to Tennessee and LSU during the season. However, Alabama will need more than one loss from USC to possibly get in. Georgia and Michigan need to win, and TCU may need to lose to Kansas State…

Ultimately, the selection committee will try to convince us that six teams are still alive for the playoffs, when in fact only five have a real chance. Georgia and Michigan are pretty much lockdowns, with TCU essentially being one too. It all boils down to USC. If the Trojans beat the Utes, they board. If they lose, Ohio State steps in. Alabama needs total chaos to even stand a chance.

USC is likely to get No. 4, Ohio State still has a shot, but Alabama is mostly negotiating.

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