It’s almost time for the College Football Playoff committee to provide us with weekly reasons to argue about our favorite college football teams.

The first batch of CFP rankings for the 2022 season will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 1. At 6-1 on the season and ranked No. 10 in the AP poll, USC is still very much alive in the CFP race, but it can’t afford another slip-up this season and it’ll need to win with some style down the stretch.

No two-loss team has ever made the CFP. And since 2016, no team has made the four-team field that wasn’t ranked ninth or higher in the initial set of rankings.

USC might have to put that latter point to the test this season. CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm projected how he thinks the first set of rankings will look, and he has the Trojans at No. 11.

This is what he wrote on USC:

The Trojans came out hot with new coach Lincoln Riley and a host of new players from the transfer portal. Things have slowed down a bit lately, and they suffered their first loss at Utah two weeks ago. USC should have an easy road the next few weeks before the trip to the Rose Bowl to play UCLA.

Palm is projecting UCLA to be one spot behind USC at No. 12. He is also projecting Oregon to come in at No. 9. Here’s how he has the top 10 ordered:

  1. Georgia
  2. Ohio State
  3. Tennessee
  4. Clemson
  5. Michigan
  6. TCU
  7. Alabama
  8. Oklahoma State
  9. Oregon
  10. Penn State

USC heads to Tucson this weekend to battle Arizona. With Notre Dame much poorer than expected, it’s looking more and more like all the Trojans’ CFP chips will be on the table on Nov. 19 when they head to Pasadena to face the Bruins. Assuming the Bruins don’t fall apart down the stretch, a win over UCLA would give USC its only ranked win of the regular season.

Notre Dame could push its way into the backend of the rankings if it gets hot — it has back-to-back games against Syracuse and Clemson coming up. A 6-2 Oregon State team could also make its way into the Top 25.

One thing’s clear: USC has to keep winning, and it needs to do so with some style.