Not every team with major College Football Playoff aspirations has been winning with style.
It is not just winning games that entices the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, it is winning games with style!
While getting an ugly victory is way more important than having a pretty loss, there are only so many spots available in the playoff in its current format. Although expansion is happening, only four teams are getting in this season. More importantly, a team may have to do more than merely win its Power Five conference, especially if it has already suffered a loss during the regular season.
Here are three playoff contenders who are in dire need of a big victory with some style points, too.
College Football Playoff: 3 teams hurting themselves due to lack of style points
Narrow margins of victory and defensive issues have certainly hurt USC a bit
USC still has to play its Week 10 game on Saturday night at home vs. 3-5 Cal, but that would be an ideal time for the Trojans to win a conference game by a huge margin. They may be 5-1 in Pac-12 play, but all of their wins have been by 17 points or less. The 17-point Pac-12 victory came over a month ago vs. Arizona State at home, a program that fired its head coach after only three games…
While the non-conference victories over Rice and Fresno State were by sizable margins, they did not come against anything close to Power Five opponents. USC still has an opportunity to get another strong win in the non-conference over Notre Dame at the end of the season. For now, it would really serve USC to handle Cal and Colorado at home before finishing Pac-12 play at UCLA.
Even if USC gets to Las Vegas with an 11-1 (8-1) record and no Pac-12 win by a larger margin than 17 points, the Trojans would still have a shot at the playoff. A road win over UCLA would be huge for them, as would a Pac-12 Championship Game victory either over one-loss Oregon or a two-loss Utah team that handed USC its only loss on the year. They need a meaningful blowout.
USC can still make the playoff, but they will need to do a little more defensively for the committee.