Our number one ranked team may come as no surprise to many. The USC Trojans are just ending a two-year probation period where they weren’t allowed to play in the Pac 12 championship game or a bowl game. While it has had an affect on their depth, the Trojans are loaded and in the questionable Pac 12 they should do just fine.
Lane Kiffin is in his third season with the Trojans and he got pretty lucky when quarterback Matt Barkley decided to stay for his senior season. Barkley, a genuinely nice guy and quite a character, is expected to be the first pick in the draft next year. He’s had spectacular seasons leading up to this year and is poised to have a very big year for the Trojans in his final stand.
Kiffin did go out and find some depth at running back by bringing in Silas Redd from Penn State. You can’t blame Redd for leaving Happy Valley and heading to sunny California. Redd now has a chance to play for at least a Pac 12 championship. Barkley will also have a two stud receivers in sophomore Marqise Lee (11 TDs) and junior Robert Woods (21 TDs) to throw to. Both had spectacular seasons in 2011, Lee had 1000 receiving yards last season and Woods had a 2000 yard season.
While the Trojans return nine offensive starters and seven defensive starters, they don’t have very much depth behind those guys. This could be a problem when they face Oregon’s fast paced offense. The Trojans will need to have their backups ready or Oregon could expose the depth they are missing.
Why USC shouldn’t be ranked number 1:
Depth Depth Depth. The starting 22 are great players, but it’s very difficult to win a national championship with just 22 guys. There will be bumps and bruises along the way and USC will need their subs to fill those holes. If they aren’t ready, USC won’t win the Pac 12 and Oregon will.
Returning Starters: 9 Offense / 7 Defense
Best games: at Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State
2011 Total Offense: 21st
2011 Total Defense: 54th
2011 Turnover margin: 67th
Championship odds: 5:2
Projected record: 12 – 0
1. USC, 2. LSU, 3. Alabama, 4. Oklahoma, 5. Oregon, 6. Wisconsin, 7. Florida State, 8. Georgia, 9. West Virginia, 10. Michigan State, 11. Clemson, 12. Michigan, 13. Virginia Tech, 14. TCU, 15. Arkansas, 16. Kansas State, 17. Texas, 18. Nebraska, 19. Ohio State, 20. South Carolina, 21. Stanford, 22. Oklahoma State, 23. Boise State, 24. Cincinnati, 25. Notre Dame