Another missed opportunity for the USC Trojans, and now the three-loss program sits outside the AP Top 25 rankings in the final week of the poll where it actually matters until the dust settles in late January.
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden and the 13-person College Football Playoff selection committee will have to evaluate everything from strength of schedule to quality of victories (or losses) and how a team is playing at that current moment in the season before Tuesday night's inaugural poll.
In the meantime, we can evaluate the rankings currently at our disposal, which are dominated by SEC programs at the top, sprinkled with Pac-12 powers in the middle and capped off with some up-and-coming programs -- Duke and Marshall. While the UCLA Bruins hold the final No. 25 spot, the current fluctuation of powers in the Pac-12 South will make for a fascinating final 5-6 weeks to the regular season.
Just one game back in the standings (4-2 in the Pac-12), the Trojans have some work to do in their next two games against Washington State and California, two winnable-but-by-no-means-guaranteed games. If that were to take place, USC would actually be right back in the mix for the division crown; crazy but still possible.
But for now, the coaching staff will have to take a real hard look at how things have unfolded late in games and work relentlessly to make adjustments before USC's next game. Check out the whole slew of rankings, which may not mean much come the televised announcement of the playoff poll Tuesday night on ESPN.
|1||Mississippi State||Mississippi State||Alabama|
|2||Florida State||Florida State||Ole Miss|
|5||Michigan State||Oregon||Florida State|
|7||Notre Dame||Ole Miss||Oregon|
|9||Ole Miss||Georgia||Kansas State|
|11||Kansas State||Kansas State||Michigan State|
|13||Ohio State||Ohio State||Arizona State|
|15||Arizona||Arizona State||Notre Dame|
|19||East Carolina||Oklahoma||West Virginia|
|21||Clemson||East Carolina||Ohio State|