UCS’ loss to Utah in the Pac 12 Championship upsets college football
Everything could have been so easy.
No. 4 seed Southern California could avenge an earlier loss to No. 12 Utah by defeating the Utes, claiming the Pac-12 championship, and hitting a ticket to the College Football Playoff.
If that’s the case, the Bowl Subdivision went into Saturday with almost zero intrigue surrounding the final game: No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 TCU and USC had nearly completed the field no matter what happened on the weekend. The week’s biggest slate of conference championship games.
But a 47-24 loss to USC brought chaos late in the day to the playoff game, setting up a comparison between the losing Trojans and #5 Ohio State for #4 in the semifinals and possibly bringing in #6 Alabama. Back to the mix.
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The argument the playoff selection committee was hoping to avoid will now determine the larger selection process after a near-debate-free stretch toward the postseason.
Clearly, the biggest winner is OSU, which has the brand name and recognition for overcoming a resume highlighted by last weekend’s 45-23 loss to Michigan. Less than a week later, the Buckeyes are in great shape to become the second team in program history to make it into the playoffs without winning a conference championship.
Here’s what you’ll hear in the 24 hours leading up to the final ranking:
- Ohio State was dominant in all but one game. Or even less, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said Friday. “If they play 48 quarters in football, they have a perfect 46 quarters in football,” he told the Associated Press.
- Neither team has won a conference championship. OSU and USC are second in the Big Ten and Pac-12 respectively, and that reflects better on the Buckeyes because the Big Ten is the better league.
- Ohio State University has one of the best campuses in the country. This is a 44-31 win over No. 7 Penn State that joins the season opener against 19th-ranked Notre Dame to highlight the Buckeyes’ resume.
- How the teams will do in the playoff is important. The argument goes that OSU is designed to thrive in the best championship format. The Buckeyes’ talent level supports this notion; It may not be a 22-point loss at home to the Wolverines.
- And did you see USC lose to Utah by 23 points?
That this debate ever happened is a major failure on the part of USC and the broader Pac-12, which hasn’t sent a team to the playoff since 2016 despite numerous opportunities to do so during conference tournament weekend.
The Trojans’ argument was greatly weakened by the second loss of the year to Utah. But does it have to be? Consider this point: USC had a better resume than OSU heading into Friday night — which is why the Trojans are fourth in the penultimate playoff classification and the Buckeyes fifth.
The loss definitely affects this resume. But that doesn’t change the fact that USC had better playoff status than OSU at 11-1, the commission said this week, and got a chance to play in the Power Five tournament, something the Buckeyes granted with a faceplant. against Wolverine.
USC and the Pac-12 will make the case, but it’s not good enough.
Alabama could sneak into this conversation as a reflection of the committee’s belief that the SEC is the best league in the country, deserving of a second team more than the Big Ten. If that’s the case, the Crimson Tide would be the second best option in the league after Georgia, if the Bulldogs take care of No. 11 LSU.
And if the tide is part of this conversation, all bets are off. With three of the nation’s biggest programs poised for a 24-hour battle over public perception, controversy is back in the playoff debate at the regular season finish line.
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