USC bowl predictions took a hit when Colorado beat Utah on Saturday (Nov. 26). The USC Trojans could still make it to the Rose Bowl, but the school is going to need a bit of help to get that invite. In the updated Pac-12 standings, the Washington Huskies won the North Division and the Colorado Buffaloes won the South Division. Both schools finished at 8-1 in conference play, just ahead of USC and the Washington State Cougars at 7-2.
In a best-case scenario for USC, the Washington Huskies would win the Pac-12 Championship Game and get invited to participate in the College Football Playoff. This would open the door for the Rose Bowl Committee to select a replacement team from the Pac-12. It would also bring USC back into the conversation. If Colorado beats Washington, though, USC will likely get locked out of the Rose Bowl this year.
A lot rides on how the College Football Playoff Selection Committee feels about the Pac-12 Conference this year. The USC bowl predictions hinge on whether the committee feels it has been a better team than Colorado down the stretch. If Washington gets invited to the CFP, the team heading to the Rose Bowl will be the highest-ranked Pac-12 team left on the board.
In the Week 13 College Football Playoff rankings, Colorado (9-2) was at No. 9 and USC (8-3) was at No. 12. Colorado then beat Utah to improve to 10-2 on the season and USC took care of Notre Dame to move to 9-3 on the season. USC is going to move up after No. 11 Louisville lost again, possibly even getting the Trojans into the top 10. Colorado could move up in the rankings, but is unlikely to budge at this point, with only Michigan losing from above them.
If Colorado goes into the Pac-12 Championship Game ranked No. 9 and USC is ranked at No. 10, then it becomes possible for things to get shaken up a bit. If Colorado beats Washington, USC could move ahead of the Huskies. Likewise, if Washington beats Colorado, the voters may move USC up a notch. The Trojans are the only team to beat both Washington and Colorado this season, which gains a lot of extra points with the CFP Selection Committee.
As for the other USC bowl predictions, if the team doesn't end up with an invite to the Rose Bowl, it's likely that the Trojans will go to either the Alamo Bowl or Holiday Bowl. If Washington goes to the College Football Playoff and Colorado gets invited to the Rose Bowl, then it is up to the Alamo Bowl Committee to decide between the USC Trojans, Washington State Cougars, and Stanford Cardinal. WSU has links to Texas, making it possible for the Cougars to get that invite, with USC then getting invited to play in California at the Holiday Bowl.
USC is a very hot ticket for bowl committees, though, so USC could easily get invited to the Alamo Bowl as well. A worst-case scenario, though very unlikely, is for the Alamo Bowl to select WSU, the Holiday Bowl to select Stanford, and the Foster Farms Bowl (in San Francisco) to then select USC. This is possible due to how the three schools finished in the final Pac-12 conference standings. Most college football analysts feel that USC will get selected ahead of WSU and Stanford, should that even become a question.
There is a very wide range of bowl games that the USC Trojans could be playing in during the postseason. The team overcame a rough start to play some of the best football in the nation down the stretch, coming very close to overtaking Colorado in the South Division standings. That would have made the path very clear, as a victory over Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game would have sent the Trojans to the Rose Bowl. Now fans and students must wait to see how the USC bowl projections play out, as it's now up to the CFP rankings.
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