How many wins and losses will the Trojans have this season? Will their record lead to the playoffs? How about a final PAC-12 title? Here is my Part One of the pre-season breakdown.
The USC Trojans have the 5th best odds to make the College Football Playoff at +250. They sit just behind future BIG-10 foes: Ohio State and Michigan as well as SEC titans: Georgia and Alabama. The program with the next best odds to head to the New Year’s dance out of the PAC-12 is Oregon at +500.
From a purely betting standpoint, at +250, the Trojans are not the PAC-12 team I’d hop into the betting-bed with due to the lackluster payout. I’d be more keen to ride the aforementioned Oregon Ducks or Washington Huskies at +600 looking for more reward. That being said, the Trojans have the strongest odds for a reason. Going through their schedule, the Trojans see two tune-ups at home with matchups against San Jose State and Nevada, followed by another home game against the newly-orphaned Stanford Cardinal. That should bring a swift 3-0 start.
Games 4,5,6, come on, get your kicks, as the Trojans should kick the hindquarters of Arizona State, Colorado, and Arizona. Lincoln Riley and crew will head to Tempe, then Boulder for their first two road tests, but any wise man should chalk those two match-ups up as wins. Arizona State and Colorado are running out with first-time FBS head coaches Kenny Dillingham and Deion Sanders, respectively. Though Dillingham is capable, he’s at the beginning of a program-building process. And while Coach Prime has already brought in some serious talent, year one at Colorado in a power 5 conference, may not be the picnic people imagine it to be. Riley should have the Trojans rolling the two away wins into yet another win when they play Arizona at home, where they should once again be heavy favorites.
After a likely 6-0 start, the USC Trojans will begin to face the challenging portion of their schedule against four strong rival programs. The schedule includes an away game at Notre Dame, an at home matchup against Utah, a home game against Washington and away again at Oregon. In between those four challenging matchups, the Trojans play away when they face the Cal Bears. The game at Cal SHOULD be another win, so putting the four most significant and challenging games of the year aside, the Trojans should have, at worst, seven wins before their rivalry match against UCLA.
We’ll break here to close Part One. Next, we’ll analyze the ‘Big-4’ match-ups of the season as well as the rivalry match against UCLA.