USC will prepare for their rivalry battle with UCLA this week as a Top 25 team, after debuting in the College Football Playoff rankings for Week 12.
It was a bit unexpected, but USC football is officially a ranked team thanks to the College Football Playoff committee.
The CFP committee announced their rankings on Tuesday evening, slotting USC at No. 23. The Trojans are one of just two four-loss teams to appear in the Top 25, behind No. 22 Iowa State. It is the first time they have featured since the rankings began in Week 10.
USC’s place was a surprise because of where they stand in other rankings dropped earlier this week. Since the Trojans were on the outside looking in with just six votes in the AP Poll and only three in the Coaches Top 25, it stood to reason the CFP committee would judge them similarly.
Instead, the men of Troy are now positioned as a key Top 25 win and loss respectively for No. 6 Oregon and No. 7 Utah, the two teams most likely to challenge for a playoff spot from the Pac-12.
Oregon and Utah are a big part of the reason USC can claim a place in the rankings at all. The Trojans own a strong Top 10 victory over the Utes, while losses to Oregon and No. 16 Notre Dame don’t hurt the resume too much. The committee may also be giving USC a bit of a pass considering their injury situation at quarterback to start the campaign.
If USC wants to end the 2019 regular season still in the CFP rankings, they will have to take care of business against UCLA on Saturday.
This year’s rivalry game will be played at the Coliseum. Since USC has their second bye in the last week of the regular season, it will be their last action until the postseason comes around. That could involved either a trip to the Pac-12 title game (if Utah loses one of their final two contests) or a bowl game.