The USC Trojans started off the season with three bad losses. They were blown out by Alabama, lost to Stanford and were edged out by Utah. However, after the 1-3 start everything changed. Clay Helton wasn’t on the Twitter hot seat anymore and freshman Sam Darnold was given the reigns to run the offense over Max Browne.

Saturday, the Trojans defeated UCLA 36-14 on the road. The Trojans move to 8-3 with the win and now are really knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff discussion. The real problem is the three losses and not much is going to deter the committee from the top teams in Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Ohio State. Plus, Penn State and Wisconsin are knocking on the door.

USC would need to defeat Notre Dame and somehow get into the Pac-12 Championship game and then win that to even get a talking point. But should the committee even consider USC?

Three losses is a lot to put USC over a team like Wisconsin or Clemson even if they did capture the conference championship. The loss to Alabama isn’t that bad of a blemish, but the Stanford loss now is. The Cardinal haven’t had quite the year they wanted after being No. 7 when they took down the Trojans. Plus when you factor other outside teams like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State — both with two losses — it’s really hard to picture USC jumping them. Luckily, the Sooners and Cowboys play each other in two weeks.

The best thing USC needs to do is win out. Beating Notre Dame wouldn’t be as big as it would’ve been back in September. And then hope for a shot at the conference title.

With 10 wins, USC would either have a track to the playoff or a Rose Bowl bid.

It’ll all come down to the selection committee and the way USC plays and the rest of the nation plays. We know this:

  • Ohio State and Michigan both aren’t going to get in (as of this post).
  • Alabama is a lock with an SEC title win.
  • Clemson is a lock with an ACC title win.
  • Washington would probably get in if they don’t lose from here on out.
  • Penn State might get in with a Big Ten title game win.
  • Oklahoma could also get in with a Big 12 title.
  • USC can hop Colorado, Utah and Wisconsin if the win out.

This is where college football will get super fun to watch. Anything could happen at this point of the season and that’s why putting teams away like USC did Saturday is important. Darnold looks good and so did the offensive line.

A lot still needs to happen for USC to be taken seriously for the No. 4 seed in the playoff.

Image via Zimbio

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Posted by Ryan Gaydos

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the LA Sports Pulse. When I'm not doing that or asleep, I am running FoxNews.com's homepage. Follow me on Twitter @RyanGaydos.

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