The USC Trojans betting odds for the 2019 football season opened at over/under 7.5 wins (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) and most of the early money was on the under, which shows the lack of faith in this team.
USC fans would like to ignore 2018 after finishing with a miserable five wins. The new season can’t come soon enough, but it’s not like USC will turn into CFP contenders in one offseason, though that’s what Clay Helton would like. The hope is that another year of JT Daniels and a new offensive coordinator will do the trick, though the defense still has some work to do.
Improving 2018 Win Total Likely
Sophomore quarterback JT Daniels is the hope, but also new Air Raid coordinator Graham Harrell, a former quarterback at Texas Tech. Of course, any way you look at it, USC has to improve after managing just 383 yards and 26.1 points per game last year, numbers not good enough for the talent.
Daniels had a trying season with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 59.5% completion, but all signs point to improvement under Harrell.
The receivers are endless with Michael Pittman (758 yards, 6 TDs), Amon-Ra St. Brown (60 receptions, 750 yards) and Tyler Vaughns (58 receptions, 674 yards, 6 TDs) all returning.
While the passing game will improve, it’s a wonder what will happen to the rushing attack after averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Vavae Malepeai (501 yards, 8 TDs) and Stephen Carr (384 yards) will get most of the work, but there’s a decent chance USC runs much less in the new offense.
There’s also an issue on the line, which only returns two starters from a subpar group. Harrell should provide a spark, but it’s hard to see this offense immediately turning into a top-10 group.
Allowing 27 ppg Doesn’t Lead to W’s
USC’s defense was a tad better last year allowing 27.0 points per game and that’s why it returned its coordinator Clancy Pendergast. That said, the group was still pretty mediocre for the talent available.
The front returns the most experience and the top two guys may be returning sophomores Jay Tufele and Marlon Tuipulotu. It’s the same situation at linebacker with sophomore Palaie Gaoteote looking like a future star complemented by seniors.
While there’s an array of sophomores set to start in the secondary, they didn’t get the same kind of experience last year. There are issues at both corner and safety in terms of depth and that could be a problem early.
The secondary’s biggest playmaker is safety Talanoa Hufanga, though he’s already injured his collarbone twice despite being only a sophomore.
We Lean Towards Betting Under 7.5 Wins
Once again, the Trojans don’t have a favorable schedule and while Pac-12 teams are getting two byes, one of theirs comes on the final week of the regular season. Nothing will come easy for this team even with three of the first four at home.
In fact, USC’s first six games could be single-digit decisions unless the addition of Harrell pays immediate dividends. Neither Fresno nor BYU are easy non-conference games, while trips to UW and ND are likely two losses.
Then you still have home games against Stanford and Utah, two teams that are always a nuisance. The second half opens up and it’s reasonable to think the Trojans can win their final six.
Sure, Arizona State will be a tough trip, but otherwise the schedule is as easy as it gets in the Pac-12 with two of their road games coming against weaker competition.
The early schedule is a gauntlet, but this team can still hit seven or eight wins as long as things don’t completely get away from them early.
The hopes are on Daniels to get the offense moving, but also the defensive line to do the heavy lifting with an iffy secondary.
2019 USC Trojans Football Schedule
Aug. 31 vs. Fresno State
Sept. 7 vs. Stanford
Sept. 14 at BYU
Sept. 20 vs. Utah
Sept. 28 at Washington
Oct. 12 at Notre Dame
Oct. 19 vs. Arizona
Oct. 25 at Colorado
Nov. 2 vs. Oregon
Nov. 9 at Arizona State
Nov. 16 at California
Nov. 23 vs. UCLA