This article was originally published on USCBlitz.com
USC's defense ran another clinic against California and got the win, 17-3, on a night when the offense wasn't doing them many favors. Despite the dominating defensive performance against a top 20 team, early BCS projections have us right back at No. 7 this week. I guess that's because style points on defense aren't as valuable as Harrell-to-Crabtree style points.
So, how can these defensive-minded Trojans snag themselves a spot in the national championship game? It's going to be tough, there's no question about that.
To understand how tough, let's take a look at the competition and see what they have left:
Alabama (Nov. 15—Mississippi State, Nov. 29—Auburn)
Texas Tech (Nov. 22—@ Oklahoma, Nov. 29—Baylor)
Texas (Nov. 15—@ Kansas, Nov. 27—Texas A&M)
Florida (Nov. 15—South Carolina, Nov. 22—Citadel, Nov. 29—@ Florida State)
Oklahoma (Nov. 22—Texas Tech, Nov. 29—@ Oklahoma State)
Although Penn State may sneak into the No. 6 spot, in front of USC, it's long been assumed that their only title chance was to finish the season undefeated. That's why I didn't include them in this conversation.
With so little time to maneuver at the end of the season, USC is lucky that the SEC and Big-12 both have conference championship games. In fact, I see it as the only reason why the Trojans are still in the title talk at all.
For Florida and Alabama, it's simple. If they win out in the regular season, the winner of the SEC Championship will be guaranteed a spot in the national title game. That's likely in my mind.
The SEC's opponent? Texas Tech...if they can get by Oklahoma on Nov. 22nd. I think a few people will tune in for that one.
The problem (or perhaps, the solution, depending on your viewpoint) is that Oklahoma will probably be the favorite at home vs. Texas Tech. So, let's say the Sooners pull it off, and win that game, then the Big-12 would have a dilemma; the Longhorns only loss would have come against Texas Tech, and Texas Tech's only loss would have come against Oklahoma, and Oklahoma's only loss would have come against Texas.
Three teams from the Big-12 south involved in some sort of endless comparison loop. You can't make this stuff up. Well actually, I did sort of make it up, because this hasn't fully happened yet. Anyways, I'll just move on.
To break the tie, the team with the highest BCS rank would move onto the conference championship game. It really wouldn't matter who that team was, from SC's perspective. The key component to this scenario is that the South representative in the Big-12 needs at least one loss.
Therefore, if Texas Tech went into the conference championship and lost vs. the two loss North team (Missouri, probably), then both teams, including the Big-12 champion, would have two losses.
Oklahoma and Texas are left in a dreadful spot. How many voters will put a team at No. 1 or No. 2 in the country, if they aren't even No. 1 or No. 2 in their own conference?
Do you see where we've landed here? Southern California's dream BCS scenario. It presumably puts them in the national championship with either Florida or Alabama.
Among all the uncertainty that remains in college football, I'm sure of one thing: This will be fun to watch!