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Schedule and Odds
Even after a largely disappointing season in which the Trojans went from preseason No. 1 to unranked, they are slowly creeping back into the Top 25 in a lot of early polls. That's what happens when you return 15 starters from the previous year. While USC doesn't have a ton of scholarships to give out, they'll be returning enough guys to fight for the Pac-12 South. Along with that, new coaches were brought in to try and pull this team together including a new defensive coordinator in Clancy Pendergast who came over from California.
USC opens up on the road on August 29th at Hawaii where they are currently listed as a whopping -22 point road favorite. Those odds are courtesy of 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
The main focus for the offense will be at quarterback where Matt Barkley leaves a wide open competition. Max Wittek came in last year, but didn't exactly amaze the coaches which leaves a three-way race for the starting gig. Cody Kessler impressed the most in the spring game, but Lane Kiffin is still mum on the subject. While QB is in question, the skill positions are still loaded with Silas Redd and Marqise Lee returning. Both of their backups are gone, but USC has plenty of other options in waiting to complement both stars. The offensive line has changed a bit as well with the all-conference center Khaled Holmes out. They'll need to fill that hole as well as a couple other spots in an area they didn't exactly excel at in 2012.
The Trojans were gashed plenty of times last year on the defensive end and that's where Pendergast comes in to introduce a more flexible defensive scheme that can help against the spread offenses of the West. The biggest question for the defense will be in the secondary where only one starter returns. Against some of the high-flying Pac-12 teams, that could mean trouble.
2013 USC Football Schedule
Aug. 29 at Hawaii
Sept. 7 vs. Washington State
Sept. 14 vs. Boston College
Sept. 21 vs. Utah State
Sept. 28 at Arizona State
Oct. 10 vs. Arizona
Oct. 19 at Notre Dame
Oct. 26 vs. Utah
Nov. 1 at Oregon State
Nov. 9 at California
Nov. 16 vs. Stanford
Nov. 23 at Colorado
Nov. 30 vs. UCLA
USC's schedule is about as nice as it can get playing in the Pac-12. Of course a road game at Notre Dame thrown right in the middle of their season in October doesn't help, but conference-wise, it's as good as can be. For starters, they don't have to play Oregon after allowing 62 points to them last year. At home, they will get two powers of the North in Stanford and UCLA.
After starting on the road at Hawaii, the Trojans will get three straight home games that should all be wins. However, Utah State will pose a viable threat with Chuckie Keeton under center as they finished 11-2 last year.
Their first true road test will come at the end of September against the Sun Devils which is followed a week-and-a-half later with a game against Arizona and then at Notre Dame. That will probably be their toughest three-game stretch of the season which isn't all that bad. Games against Stanford and UCLA are split with a Colorado game between them.
The pieces are there for USC to improve on last year's poor performance, especially after losing five of their last six games. In fact, if they don't improve, Kiffin's days could be numbered. With 13 games in their schedule, the Trojans could easily get to 10 wins this year if they find a QB that can win and improve slightly on the defensive end.
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