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USC Trojans

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Per usual, USC is a top-10 team going into the season. But unlike other campaigns when they didn’t really deserve it, this may be the year that the Trojans live up to the billing with the help of quarterback Sam Darnold. They come into this season riding a nine-game winning streak, holding off Penn State in the Rose Bowl last time out. In fact, Darnold’s only loss was in his first career start at Utah, early last year.

Darnold is the talk of the town for a number of reasons, mainly because he’s projected to be a top pick in next year’s NFL Draft and also compete for the Heisman. He was one of the better QBs in the country last year throwing for 31 TDs and 9 INTs with a 67.2% completion rate and he didn’t start the first three games. USC seems to reload at wide out whenever needed and that’ll be the case again with Deontay Burnett (622 yards, 7 TDs) expected to remain a big piece, but also Velus Jones, who’s expected to come in and be the new playmaker. Ronald Jones (1,082 yards, 12 TDs) and Aca’Cedric Ware return in the backfield, but the question is on the offensive line after a tough spring. While bringing in new starters, they also dealt with numerous injuries. This offense has a chance to be elite, but not if the line struggles early.

Outside of the offensive line, the defense is the biggest piece that needs to improve if USC wants to compete for a national title. The Trojans were fine last season allowing 22.2 points per game, but will need some new faces to step up. Cameron Smith and Porter Gustin will lead the group, although Oluwole Betiku made a name for himself in the spring. Safety Chris Hawkins will be one of the leaders as well and while there are a lot of new starters on the line and in the secondary, this is still USC, so every player coming in is a high-end prospect or high-end transfer. Improving on last year’s performance may be a little too much to ask, which could lead to a loss or two.

The Trojans have the fourth-best spring odds (+775 at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the National Championship and are expected to win the Pac-12 at just +115. Their schedule isn’t extremely difficult, missing Washington and Oregon from the North. That’s not to say it will be easy with Stanford coming to town in early September followed by Texas. Winning road games will be key with Washington State, Notre Dame and Colorado being the toughest ones. There’s not a game that appears too difficult to win for the Trojans, but that’s assuming they improve from last season. With questions on the offensive line, anything can happen in road games and then throw in how the defense performed in the Rose Bowl, allowing 49 points, and there’s no guarantee what will happen. The schedule is there for the Trojans to run the table with Darnold at quarterback, although not getting a week of rest until the final weekend doesn’t help.


2017 USC Trojans Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Western Michigan
Sept. 9 vs. Stanford
Sept. 16 vs. Texas
Sept. 23 at California

Sept. 29 at Washington State
Oct. 7 vs. Oregon State
Oct. 14 vs. Utah

Oct. 21 at Notre Dame
Oct. 28 at Arizona State
Nov. 4 vs. Arizona
Nov. 11 at Colorado
Nov. 18 vs. UCLA

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