USC College Football Preview

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Schedule and Odds

As is almost the case every year, USC is getting tons of hype. In Steve Sarkisian’s second as the head coach, the Trojans are one of the favorites to make the College Football Playoff and have the Fourth-best odds to make the National Championship Game (+1500 at 5 Dimes). Oddly enough, they have the second-best odds behind Oregon to win the Pac-12 (+375 at 5Dimes).

From a team that went 9-4 last year and 6-3 in the Pac-12, the Trojans return 14 starters, although lose plenty of big-name talent at offensive skill spots. A spot where they won’t have someone new is at quarterback with Cody Kessler. Kessler was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country last year with 3,826 yards, 39 TDs, 5 INTs and a 69.7% completion rate. Those numbers are great, but it can’t be forgotten that he only had three touchdowns in USC’s Four losses. Most of his big stats were accrued against poor defenses. This time around he’ll have to make due without NFL draft picks such as RB Buck Allen and WR Nelson Agholor, as well as George Farmer. However, it’s not like USC will be lacking talent any time soon.

There doesn’t look like a problem at receiver with JuJu Smith (54 receptions) returning to go along with the improvement of Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell. Kessler may have lost his favorite target, but he’ll be fine. The backfield is in a similar situation with Justin Davis (595 yards), James Toland IV and Tre Madden expected to battle for carries. Madden will be looking to prove himself after turf toe kept him out all of last season. The line dealt with injuries in the spring, but they have enough depth that it didn’t really change a thing. They should have another great unit in 2015.

The defense may lose a few All-Pac-12 performers like Leonard Williams, but there’s plenty of talent to go around on this USC team, especially with the NCAA sanctions complete. It wasn’t a great start to spring as multiple injuries popped up, but new commodities came about from Chris Hawkins, who was moved to safety, to linebacker Olajuwon Tucker who filled in for Anthony Sarao. The line is probably the area that needs the most help, but the talent is there.

The Schedule doesn’t do USC any nice favors and it’s also a wonder how they are so high on CFP odds. The Trojans get a tough Pac-12 slate right from the start, having to host Stanford. But then they have to travel to Arizona State, who they lost to last year. A road Game at Notre Dame is also right in the middle of the Schedule between home Games against Washington and Utah. Their biggest test will probably be at the end of the year with Oregon and UCLA in back-to-back Games. A road Game against the Ducks will be a big test, especially if they are undefeated at that point.

The Trojans have Kessler back, but lose a lot of big-name talent. New guys will have to step up if they are to have any chance at the Playoff. Projecting them to go that far doesn’t seem likely. USC will probably get to double-digit wins, but going undefeated probably won’t happen.

2015 USC Football Schedule

Sept. 5 vs. Arkansas State
Sept. 12 vs. Idaho
Sept. 19 vs. Stanford
Sept. 26 at Arizona State
Oct. 8 vs. Washington
Oct. 17 at Notre Dame
Oct. 24 vs. Utah
Oct. 31 at California
Nov. 7 vs. Arizona
Nov. 13 at Colorado
Nov. 21 at Oregon
Nov. 28 vs. UCLA