Stephen A. Smith makes wild claim about USC's College Football Playoff chances
Stephen A. Smith doesn’t think USC will make the College Football Playoff in 2023. The ESPN personality certainly isn’t alone in that thinking, but he might not garner much support for his reasoning.
In a discussion with SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum, Smith asserted the Trojans won’t make the Playoff because they won’t have an appealing strength of schedule.
“When we look at this schedule, just look at this right here. San Jose State, Nevada, Stanford — who ain’t what they used to be,” he began. “Arizona State, Colorado, Arizona. Alright, Notre Dame on my birthday. Utah, California. I mean, come on man. Am I supposed to be excited, Paul Finebaum, about that particular schedule?”
The segment in question had a graphic of USC’s full schedule up while Smith ran through things. He stopped reading off the schedule when he got to the Washington/Oregon/UCLA stretch.
“When you’re talking about the College Football Playoff, yeah, you’re talking about records but at some point in time you’re going to look at the level of competition you’re going up against. Am I right?” Smith said. “I think something like (TCU’s showing in last year’s national title game) hurts a team like USC because you look at the level of competition they’re going to go against… I’m just sitting there like, damn, other than Notre Dame, why am I interested really in who you’re playing against? That’s my problem. Am I wrong?”
USC faces four teams who open the year inside the preseason AP Top 15. All four of those games come over the final six weeks of the regular season. Two of them are on the road.
Utah seems to be disregarded by Smith, curious considering the program has won back-to-back Pac-12 championships and beat the Trojans twice last year. Washington isn’t even mentioned despite an 11-2 record last fall and a preseason Top 10 ranking. Oregon has won 27 of its 29 home games over the last five years.
Notre Dame also opened its 2023 campaign with a 42-3 thrashing of Navy on Saturday.
If the Trojans make it through the back half of the schedule still in CFP contention, it seems likely their six-week stretch to close out the year actually helps them — not the other way around.
For what it’s worth, Georgia will only face two teams who made it into the preseason AP Top 25.
Smith’s full comments on the Trojans are below: