Reg. Season Records: 8-4, 9-4, 7-5, 1o-2
SRS Rankings: 15, 18, 20, 10
Talking Point: Deja Vu. Stop me if you’ve heard this story before. USC recruits well. Multiple USC players will be going pro in sports. Folks who project performance based on those factors, such as Phil Steele, are super bullish about USC. Others are skeptical USC has the depth and the coaching acumen (or acumen to avoid embarrassing public episodes) to mount a serious title campaign.
Why To Like Them: Solid, statistically impressive QB Cody Kessler is back for his senior year. Last year’s young offensive line returns five starters, ages and, one would presume, improves. The Trojans have an absurd talent assemblage at the back end of the defense.
Why Not To Like Them: The Trojan offense leaned heavily on Buck Allen (279 carries) and Nelson Agholor (104 catches) last season. Both players depart. They also lose some quality players up front on the defense. Leonard Williams was arguably the nation’s best defensive lineman. Hayes Pullard and J.R. Tavai were productive seniors.
Schedule: Not the easiest Pac 12 schedule. They play five road games. They get Stanford/Arizona State and Oregon/UCLA in back to back weeks. Road trips to Cal and Colorado in let down spots. They also have a road trip to Notre Dame thrust into the middle of the conference season.
Throwing Darts: USC loses their best defender and two best offensive skill players from a 9-4 team, albeit a 9-4 team that wasn’t that far away. The Trojans are formidable, they reel off a couple big wins. They finish a respectable 9-3, which won’t necessarily preclude them from winning the Pac 12 South.
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