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USC enters UCLA game with clear path to Pac-12 title and College Football Playoff berth

A win over UCLA will clinch a berth for the Trojans in the Pac-12 football championship game

Stunning losses by UCLA and Oregon shook up the Pac-12 over the weekend and put both of those teams on the ropes heading into the final two weeks of the Pac-12 regular season. 

USC is fully in control of its own destiny and has a chance this Saturday to cement its spot in a Week 14 Pac-12 title game matchup in Las Vegas.

The Pac-12 championship game will most likely feature the winners of this weekend’s two ranked matchups: No. 10 Utah at No. 12 Oregon and No. 7 USC at No. 16 UCLA.

At No. 7, this is the highest the Trojans have been ranked in the College Football Playoff era. If USC wins Saturday, its matchup against Notre Dame becomes irrelevant for Pac-12 implications, as the Trojans will guarantee that they finish the season with, at worst, two total losses and one conference loss. Every other team in the conference has lost at least two conference games, except Oregon and Utah, but one of them will pick up their second this weekend.

The Notre Dame game obviously is still relevant for playoff considerations, and a best-case scenario for the Trojans likely includes Utah beating Oregon, and USC getting a chance at redemption against the Utes in the conference championship game, assuming they can take care of UCLA and Notre Dame first. Potentially finishing the season as a conference champion at 12-1, with a revenge win over the only team that managed to beat them, is a very strong case for a top-four seed.

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This would also likely give the Trojans ranked wins over UCLA and Notre Dame, as well as Utah - which will be a top-10 team if they beat Oregon - and also Oregon State, who is ranked as of now.

There is a path to the College Football Playoff in Lincoln Riley’s first season at USC, as the committee should give USC the edge as an outright conference champion over a team like Tennessee or the loser of Ohio State vs. Michigan, which would also have only one loss.

“Yeah, you can’t control that, it’s like I told the team and you guys after Utah. I sat right here and told y’all the same thing,” Riley said. “Just win, things take care of themselves.”

“The top of the league, there’s a lot of quality teams right now, and again, if everybody wants to judge how these go, this or that … find a way to win, baby.”

“I don't think about that,” Jordan Addison said in his first interview with the media since his injury at Utah. “It's kind of too far away, and we got to just focus on this game right here. Go 1-0 and then we’ll think about that later. We win this game, everything will take care of itself.”