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Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams (13) is tackled by Utah safeties R.J. Hubert (11) and Cole Bishop (8) during the first half of the Pac-12 Conference championship NCAA college football game Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)
STEVE MARCUS

What USC loss means for 2022 College Football Playoff picture

It would seem that no one wants to be the No. 4 seed in the 2022 College Football Playoff.

Needing only a win in the PAC-12 championship game to likely clinch a playoff berth, USC got dump-trucked by Utah. After USC took a 17-3 lead in the first half, the Utes rolled their way to a 47-24 victory.

The game and USC’s chances took a drastic hit when star quarterback Caleb Williams suffered some sort of leg injury that limited his mobility. Still, the defensive effort from USC is very much the reason the Trojans lost on Friday night.

The problem for Alabama is that the No. 1, 2 and 3 teams are all playing for conference championships this weekend and enter with unbeaten records.

No. 1 Georgia takes on No. 14 LSU in the SEC championship game, No. 2 Michigan plays Purdue in the Big Ten championship game and No. 3 TCU plays No. 19 Kansas State in the Big 12 championship.

The only seemingly real path would be a blowout loss for TCU to the Wildcats and hope that the committee would pick Alabama and Ohio State over TCU. The problem is that TCU, in addition to going unbeaten, has wins over Kansas State and No. 19 Texas. Alabama’s best wins are over No. 19 Texas and No. 24 Mississippi State. TCU also beat Texas 17-10 in Austin, while Alabama came away with a 20-19 win over Texas in Austin.

Should Georgia win tomorrow, the Bulldogs would certainly lock up the No. 1 ranking for the College Football Playoff. That would give Georgia the path to playing its college football playoff semifinal game in Atlanta, where Georgia will have already played twice this year.

When asked about that possibility this week for Georgia, head coach Kirby Smart rejected the idea.

“There’s no thought of the next step. There’s such a long break between this step and next step,” Smart said. “This is the culmination of a season. The next opportunity, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

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