USC football has a 30% chance of winning the Pac-12, a 4% chance of making the College Football Playoff and remains one of just 14 teams with a 1% or better chance of winning the national title, according to FiveThirtyEight.com’s playoff predictor.
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The model, which was developed in part by Nate Silver, gives Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama and TCU the best probability of being the final four in the playoff.
Though USC did not make an appearance in the Playoff Committee’s opening rankings, the Trojans still outrank the likes of No 23 UCLA and No. 20 Mississippi St. when it comes to the predictor’s playoff probabilities at 4%.
The most surprising part of the predictor lies in USC’s unlikely shot at what would be a stunning national title this season. With an admittedly low 1% probability, the Trojans still have better odds than more highly-ranks squads like Florida State, who sit in the same position as Ohio State did last year, Memphis, Utah, Michigan and Iowa.
The predictor does not just give probabilities for the playoff. Percentages for the conference title give USC a surprisingly high shot at taking home the Pac-12 championship for the first time since 2008. Stanford has the highest probability at 46%, but the Trojans are not far behind with a 30% chance.
By comparison, Utah’s odds are just 18% while UCLA’s chances are rated at 5%.
In order to get to the conference title game, the Trojans would need to win the remaining four games on the schedule. They also need the Utes to drop one more game.
USC is a 16-point favorite over their next opponent, Arizona. Following the Wildcats, the men of Troy will take on Colorado and Oregon on the road before meeting up with UCLA at the Coliseum.
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Utah faces road tests at Washington and Arizona before taking on UCLA at home and then finishing the season up with Colorado.
Predictors obviously do not hold all the answers, as what really matters is what plays out on the field. However, it is interesting to note that how highly rated USC remains in rankings which focus on the numbers, rather than just record.
Measured in advanced stats, the Trojans are currently ranked No. 6 FEI and No. 11 in S&P+. ESPN’s Football Power Index, which is a predictor of future outcomes, ranks USC at No. 5.