Southern California is undefeated and can win its second Pac-12 championship in four years with a victory over Oregon on Friday.
It still may not be enough to get the No. 13 Trojans into the College Football Playoff.
USC is No. 14 in the latest CFP rankings and, barring a massive shakeup ahead in the standings, is not likely to earn one of the top four spots.
“I’m still holding out some hope,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said during a video call on Thursday. “I know the committee is going to watch the game, and depending on how USC does, if they continue to improve and look good as they have, we’re hoping that they will be in the discussion for a playoff spot.
"But certainly, 13 does not come close to reflecting where we think they deserve to be right now.”
The Pac-12 was put in a tough spot in terms of the CFP when it opted to begin fall and winter sports in January due to the pandemic, then switched to an early November start.
So while teams in major conferences were playing games, Pac-12 teams had to wait for their seasons to start and ended up playing fewer games.
Ohio State (5-0), No. 4 in the playoff rankings, will have played the same number of games as USC after this weekend's Big Ten title game, but has dominated every game except a seven-point win over No. 7 Indiana.
The Trojans had to score two touchdowns in the final three minutes to beat Arizona State in their opener and had close games against Arizona and UCLA.
Scott said the conference has had discussions with CFP committee members and worked with USC to provide voters with information about the Trojans.
“I certainly feel that we’re doing everything we can to advocate for them,” Scott said. “I’m frustrated and disappointed with where they are in the standings right now, for sure.”
USC could have gotten a boost from beating Washington in the title game, but the Huskies had to back out due to COVID-19 issues. Oregon, which finished second in the Pac-12 North, is taking their place in Friday's championship game.
“I’m glad we’re going to have a championship game where the Pac-12 championship will be earned on the field, which our football people felt was essential,” Scott said.
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