Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pac 12 Preview: USC

After two down seasons by USC standards, it appears that USC is ready to jump back into the national title picture in 2012.  They have a legitimate stud quarterback, a four year starter who looked to have taken "the leap" at the end of last year.  They have two ridiculously good wide receivers, the standard USC running back duo and a solid offensive line.  The linebackers are young but talented, and the secondary is loaded.  Their moody, petulant head coach appears to have finally grown up.  If the Trojans remain healthy this team could win 10-12 games and compete for a national title. But what if they don't?

Lost in the late season renaissance USC experienced last season and the ensuing hype of having Barkley, Woods and McDonald return for another season is that this program is still on sanctions.  I'm a fan of history, and as, quite obviously, I'm a Seattle native, I've followed the Washington Huskies football program since my infancy. This USC team's situation reminds me of the 1997 Huskies team.  As you may or may not remember, the Huskies were stricken with similar and equally dubious sanctions at the height of their powers. Washington's sanctions took effect in 1993, and by 1997 it appeared they were rising back to their previous status as a dominant program.  The team was utterly loaded with talent, 14 of 22 starters ended up being drafted into the NFL. Due to the sanction induced scholarship restrictions, the Huskies lacked depth. Despite starting the season ranked 4th in the country and starting 7-1, the Huskies suffered injuries down the stretch and finished 8-4. 
USC, it could easily be argued, has better talent than that Washington team, but still has significant depth issues. If injuries hit, the could suffer a similar fate.

Injuries, I can't predict, therefore I will say the only other weakness I can find on this squad is potentially on the defensive line. They lost three starters, which, nine or ten games out of the year shouldn't affect a squad like USC, but given how important the defensive line will be stopping Stanford and Oregon, it could be the difference between 10-2 and 12-0.

Sept. 1 -- Hawaii: Win
8 -- Syracuse: Win
15 -- @Stanford: Win
22 -- California: Win
Oct. 4 -- @Utah: Win
13 -- @Washington:Win
20 -- Colorado:Win
27 -- @Arizona:Win
Nov. 3 -- Oregon: Loss
10 -- Arizona State: Win
17 -- @UCLA: Win
24 -- Notre Dame:Win


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