clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What No. 20 Utah’s win over No. 7 USC means for College Football Playoff

The Pac-12 was already behind the eight-ball when it came to the College Football Playoff. Now they might be over in October.

USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams throws the ball away while pressured by Utah Utes defensive end Connor O’Toole in the second quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium.  Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Utes fell behind 21-7 early, but came back to beat the USC Trojans 43-42 on Saturday night in an absolute thriller at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

But for the USC, as well as the Pac-12 schools that share postseason revenue with them, it might have been a fatal blow to their chances to reach the 2023 College Football Playoff.

The winner of the SEC is a lock for the Playoff, and likely the Big Ten champion as well as long as it’s either Michigan or Ohio State. Clemson appears to be rolling towards another undefeated season and ACC Championship. And the Big 12 has TCU, who is still unscathed and will lay claim to a bid.

And that’s before you factor in that a non-championship team from the SEC (Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee) will also have a quality case to a fourth spot based on their overall strength of schedule. The reality is that the Pac-12 just isn’t the SEC West in terms of overall power.

There is still a path for the Trojans, but it involves being undefeated the rest of the season. Despite the loss, they still control their destiny to play in the Pac-12 title game, where a big win over Oregon late could leave a quality final impression in voters eyes. But the truth is with the loss, despite it being by just one point on the road in one of the toughest places to play in all of college football, might be a death knell for the west coast again.

In the eight years we’ve had a College Football Playoff, the Pac-12 has reached the national semifinals just twice, and not since 2016.