So now what?
Here the Trojans sit, watching the college football world go by this week as we all wonder what's next. What's the second act after a magnificent eight-game all-winning run to the finish in October and November.
Today's release of the second-to-last College Football Playoff rankings points us in at least a direction.
*** Trojans move up one spot to No. 11 and within striking distance of and should pass the loser of the Oklahoma (9) and Oklahoma State (10) game, the loser -- if Colorado (No. 8) -- in the Pac-12 title game and the loser -- maybe -- of the Big Ten title game if it's No. 7 Penn State . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Really intrigued how this plays out if Colorado, as expected by most of us, loses to Washington Friday night in the Pac-12 Championship game and like USC finishes with three losses and a head-to-head loss to USC? Agree with those who say Washington's win puts it in the top four and in the playoffs and puts 9-3 USC on an eight-game tear into the Rose Bowl . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And yeah, we've heard the argument that Colorado is the South champ and its three losses came on one more game than USC played. We'd counter that with the fact that instead of playing Washington in the regular season, and doing so on the road, Colorado got Washington State at home. Hardly an apples-to-apples comparison. What would Colorado's record be had the Buffs had to play UW in Seattle as USC did? . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But now we're going back on last week's advice that USC football should never be put in the place of rooting for someone else to take care of USC's business, which in the case of pulling for Utah against Colorado was good advice . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Not to mention how good it was for the Buffs to be playing in Boulder against Utah where the home team was flagged for -- in the Pac-12 -- an incomprehensibly low zero penalties. How does that happen? This is the same Colorado team that racked up 128 yards on a dozen penalties against UCLA last month . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Not so now on the no-rooting advice. USC has no choice but to hope Washington's Huskies rout the Buffaloes Friday night in the title game. Sure, it won't make much of a national ripple since no one will be watching with all the high school football playoff action everywhere but the CFP Committee will. A Colorado win will create the kind of chaos that will be good neither for the Pac-12 or USC. Can you say Alamo Bowl? . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Not that the Pac-12 is any different here in presenting a devalued championship game between two teams USC dispatched in the last two months. The Big Ten eliminated its top two of Ohio State and Michigan for a Penn State-Wisconsin matchup. The ACC has Clemson against relatively lowly Virginia Tech in a ho-hummer. Then there's the SEC where Alabama is a 24-point favorite over Florida . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Only the Big 12, which does not have a championship game this year, gets lucky here with the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State "Bedlam" game this weekend . . . Just Sayin'.
*** We're going to spin this in the best way for USC. Had the Trojans made the Pac-12 title game, one positive would have been a win -- hard as it may be to beat a good team twice in the same season -- that would have put USC, at worst, in the Rose Bowl. But a second win over Washington wouldn't have mattered more than the first. Right now, USC has wins over both teams there, including Colorado, that will stand up forever . . . Just Sayin'.
*** The one benefit of not playing this week is that all USC coaches can, and have, hit the road to recruit on the heels of the strong season finish with wins over archrivals UCLA and Notre Dame, who are also recruiting rivals, as well. Good way to close on the field the last two months, now USC needs a second strong close the next two months . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But the more important recruiting may have to happen right here in the McKay Center when Clay Helton sits down with those juniors who could head off to the NFL. And we're not talking Adoree' and JuJu here. We don't know how their NFL projections will pan out right now but they can head off without looking back if they choose. No way to offer them a reason to stay. That's not saying Adoree', for example, might want to combine a much more robust offensive experience -- where he has a skill set unmatched in college football and at the top of the heap in the NFL when he gets there. Should he want to combine it with a Heisman campaign, that might work. And yet you still might want to tell him to go . . . Just Sayin'.
*** The more important place to recruit might be in making sure the O-line pair of juniors Damien Mama and Viane Talamaivao give themselves another chance to get quicker and stronger, leaner and fitter, more experienced and more precise, for the next level. No way should they move on without being close to a degree and no certainty to make a roster just yet. Here's our suggestion in one of those information-sharing sessions with Clay. Put on the Alabama tape and point out that those guys they were playing across from and having absolutely no luck blocking, or even touching, well they'll be playing against guys like that every day in the NFL and they'd better be ready to do so. They're not yet. Not on every play every day . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Speaking of USC players, it's interesting to note that only seniors Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler made the first-team All-Pac-12 today up front with Damien second team with another senior, nose tackle Stevie Tu'kolovatu . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Keeping offensive tackle Chuma Edoga in the mix and getting Jordan Simmons' sixth-year medical redshirt are other places where in-house recruiting really matters here . . . Just Sayin'.
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