The unranked USC football team has just three weeks remaining in the regular season. The Trojans, who are 5-4, are looking to close their season on a strong note. The 2017 Pac-12 champions will also look to defend their title. The Pac-12 South currently has a three-way tie for first between USC, Utah, and Arizona. The next three weeks will determine everything for the Trojans. Their fate will be determined through two conference games and one out of conference game. Here is how their remaining schedule shapes up.
Cal (Saturday, Nov. 10): The Trojans will square off against the California Golden Bears on Nov. 10. The matchup represents one of two final Pac-12 conference games for the Trojans before a potential Pac-12 title matchup. The Bears boast a top-20 defense and a win against No. 25 ranked Washington.
@ UCLA (Saturday, Nov. 17): The Trojans will head to the Rose Bowl Stadium to take on their crosstown rivals in their final regular season Pac-12 matchup. The Chip Kelly led Bruins are currently 2-7, but have won two of their last four conference games Both their defense and offense rank among the bottom of FBS schools.
Notre Dame (Saturday, Nov. 24): The Trojans will close their season at home against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Currently, Notre Dame is ranked No. 3 in the country. If the season ended today, the Fighting Irish would take on Clemson in the College Football Playoff. USC will look to play spoiler against Notre Dame in this matchup. Since 2013, the two teams have been trading wins back-and-forth in home and away matchups.
USC is currently in a three-way tie for the Pac-12 South title. Tied alongside the Trojans are Arizona and Utah. USC holds a victory over Arizona and a loss to Utah. Utah has victories over both schools, while Arizona has lost to both. If the season ended today, Utah would win the South due to their tiebreaker victories.
Utah will finish their season without their starting quarterback, Tyler Huntley due to a broken collarbone. It has been reported that their star running back, Zack Moss, will also be out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
The Washington State Cougars currently lead the Pac-12 North with a 5-1 conference record and 8-1 overall record. The Cougars only loss came to USC back in Week 4 at the Coliseum. Just behind Washington State is the University of Washington with their 5-2 conference record. The two will meet in the Apple Cup to close out the 2018 regular season on Nov. 23.
Nearly one year ago, the Trojans took down the Stanford Cardinal to claim the Pac-12 championship and book a ticket to the Cotton Bowl. The Trojans are looking to go back to the championship, but they’ll need to close out their season with two conference wins and a loss from Utah and Arizona State. Presently, USC has a 5.1 percent chance of winning the conference, per ESPN’s Football Power Index.
Heading back to the Rose Bowl would be a dream come true for the Trojans. USC won the bowl game in 2017 against Penn State with Sam Darnold under center. This year’s Rose Bowl will not be a College Football Playoff matchup and instead will revert to being the Big-10 conference champion vs. Pac-12 conference champion. Although Michigan leads the Big-10, they are projected to compete in a CFP bowl game, therefore giving Ohio State the Rose Bowl nod. Presently, Washington State is predicted to represent the Pac-12. If USC were to make the Rose Bowl, it would be a rematch of last year’s Cotton Bowl. Ohio State thrashed USC, 24-7 in Darnold’s final game as a Trojan.
The Las Vegas Bowl represents a possible likely option for the Trojans. Taking place in the titular city, the bowl is played on Dec. 15 at the Sam Boyd Stadium. The game features the sixth seed of the Pac-12 against the first seed of the Mountain West conference. Fresno State and Utah State are both undefeated in conference play and both boast 8-1 rankings. One of them will play in the bowl game.
In 2016, USC demolished Utah State 45-7 at the Coliseum and holds all six wins. USC has two recognized wins against Fresno State in four matchups.
The bowl game featuring the name of the cheesy snack will take place in Phoenix, Arizona on Dec. 26 at Chase Field, the home of the MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks. It will feature the Big-12 conference’s sixth seed and the Pac-12 conference’s seventh seed. It represents the lowest possible bowl option for the Pac-12. If selected to the bowl, the Trojans would likely take on Texas Tech or Baylor.
The Trojans have three victories against Texas Tech, with their last game being played in 1995. USC also has three wins against Baylor, with their last game being played in 1994.
This article will be updated in the weeks leading up to bowl game selection.