USC Football will likely not be in the College Football Playoff after they got blown out in the Pac-12 Championship Game by a score of 47-24. The Trojans got up to a 17-3 lead, and had it until there were just under four minutes left in the first half.
What went wrong? Well, Caleb Williams not only was dealing with a massive gash on his throwing hand that was clearly impacting him, but he also was limping up and down the field all game long. Once it began getting especially bad, Utah began their comeback.
Williams lost all mobility by that second quarter, and it was especially bad for the Trojans because they were already without their top offensive lineman for the game (Left Guard Andrew Vorhees). Then, USC's No. 2 Offensive Lineman in Center Brett Neilon went down in the fourth quarter when SC was trying to come back down 10 and was driving down Utah's side of the field.
The pocket continued to collapse all game as the injuries to the offensive line (and Travis Dye's absence) took a major toll on SC's blocking game, and Williams had no mobility to escape. He was playing on one leg. He wasn't even at 50%.
He still played valiantly; completing 28 passes out of 41 attempts for 363 passing yards and three touchdowns, but SC's offense couldn't overcome the injuries they were facing to win the contest. Things eventually spiraled in that last 6:57 of the game, and Utah scored 13 more points. The defense was awful all game. Not only did they give up 47 points, but they also allowed 533 total yards.
They were run all over, as the Utes ran wild for 223 yards on 35 carries (6.4 rushing yards per carry). They also had three rushing touchdowns. Cam Rising also had a great day, throwing for 310 rushing yards on a good 9.1 pass yards per attempt. He too had three touchdown passes.
WR Money Parks stood out with four catches for 88 yards and a TD. TE Thomas Yassmin also stood out with two catches for 81 yards and a TD. This all made for a forgettable USC performance that will likely prevent them from getting into the College Football Playoff. If SC would have won this game, the No. 4 Trojans would at least keep that No. 4 spot.
Now, USC Football will likely drop out of the College Football Playoff.
USC Football will likely drop out in favor of Ohio State, who will have an 11-1 record. SC now has an 11-2 record after their Pac-12 Championship Game loss. Is it not right if SC gets punished and bumped out for having a good enough season to make their conference championship game, when Ohio State did not have a good enough season to make their conference championship game?
Well, there's at least a strong argument for it to not be right. Unfortunately, however, the CFP committee has never included a two-loss team in the Playoff since its establishment. That includes leaving out two-loss Power 5 conference champions, who didn't make it in over 11-1 teams that didn't make their conferfence championship at all. (Like when USC was left out in favor of Alabama in 2017.)
Therefore, whether it's right or not to punish a team for playing in their conference championship and having to play hurt, it's likely to happen. The final score didn't help, either. The reality, however, is that even despite this loss the Trojans still wildly outperformed expectations for this season. Going 11-2 after a 4-8 season that was the worst in program history is still a remarkable turnaround.