Coming off of an unexpected 10-2 season in 2011, the USC Trojans will give the LSU and Alabama a run for their money as they're bowl eligible and Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Barkley has decided to return for another season.
College football odds
makers also thinks that USC has an opportunity as they're installed at 11/2 along with Alabama, while LSU leads the way at 9/2
. No other team comes close as Oklahoma is the next favorite at 10/1.
The play of quarterback Matt Barkley and his decision to return to USC left a lasting imprint as he's currently the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy
at 7/2 odds.
Can the Trojans do the impossible and be a team that was bowl ineligible last season due to violations and win the BCS Championship the next season?Limitations
Due to the violations, there are a couple of restrictions as USC is only allowed to recruit 15 players. This shouldn't affect this team as it's filled with experienced players and possibly looked like the best team in the country towards the end of last season.Team leader
The Trojans are definitely secure in one position and that's the quarterback. Matt Barkley wasn't content with just having a good season on a bowl-ineligible team last season, he wants more. Barkley's decided to bypass the NFL and come back for another season and that immediately makes USC one of the top teams in college football and as a consolation, it give's Barkley a legitimate chance at the Heisman.
By watching the fire in this young man last season, I think that he doesn't like to be restricted and just want's to win. The only concern that I have with Matt Barkley is the risk for injury. He has a bright NFL career ahead of him and is only one major injury away from ending his dream. I hope that Barkley has an insurance policy regarding injuries.
Last season, Barkley ended the season with emphasis as he gave UCLA a "going to the Pac -12 Championship gift" by tearing them to shreads and sending their coach on his way out of a job with a 50-0 beating of the Bruins. In that game, Barkley threw for 423 yards and 6 touchdowns in the victory.
Barkley is a player with fire in his belly and Alabama and LSU should take notice. I don't see him coming back to college to falter.Supporting cast returns
USC isn't just the Matt Barkley show. With the exception of running back Marc Tyler, it's 3 main offensive options all return and all are promised a future in the NFL.Running back
USC can endure the loss of Tyler with the return of running back Curtis McNeal. Last season, McNeal ran for 1005 yards and 6 TD's. This is a back that plays big against the better opponents. He rushed for over 100 yards in 4 games last season. What did these teams have in common? They were all top level teams in Notre Dame, Washington, Stanford and UCLA. Against UCLA it was a statement game and McNeal made his point as he rushed for 124 yards and 1 TD on 10.3 yards per carry. McNeal also had a 94 yard performance against Pac-12 and Rose Bowl Champion Oregon. Look for this kid to have a big senior year as he'll be the main source for yardage on the ground.Top flight receivers
Can you imagine how dangerous the Trojans offense will be when Matt Barkley is throwing to 1000 yard receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee? I don't think anyone in the country can stop them. Not LSU, not Alabama, nobody.
Last season Woods led the team with an amazing 111 receptions for 1292 yards and 15 TD's. He topped the season off with a 255 yard and 2 TD performance against Arizona. Remember folks, this kid is just 19 years old!
Inglewood, California native Marqise Lee wasn't too shabby himself as he caught for 1143 yards and 15 TD's. Lee made a lasting impression on his interstate rivals, the UCLA Bruins. He had 13 receptions for 224 yards and 2 TD. This was only Lee's freshman year. I pity the secondary that has to deal with these two superstars.Commits
Wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Darreus Rogers are both 5 and 4 star players respectively according to Rivals top 150. Agholor is the player to keep an eye on. He ranked 18th in the nation and 2nd in the state of Florida. With limited resources, USC still manages to come up with the top recruits.Trojan Defense
There's some room for improvement on the defense. This is where the SEC holds dominance over the Trojans but USC did address this with a multitude of defensive recruits. USC has signed the nation's top JUCO safety in Gerald Bowman. At 6 foot 1, 215 pounds, Bowman play's in the box and specializes in stopping the run with his ability to close in on a play with his hitting ability.
While we're talking about recruits, USC did land some of the top offensive linemen in Zack Banner and Jordan Simmons but they did well in obtaining some 4 star recruits such as defensive end Leonard Williams, who ranked 53rd in the nation on the recruiting list.Leading returnees
While sackmaster Nick Perry has decided to make a B-Line for the NFL, plenty of the defensive standouts have decided to stay and improve their value. Sophomores and leading tacklers Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard will both return for another year. Next to Perry, Pullard led the team with 4 sacks.
Senior defensive back T.J. McDonald will look to make an extra impact this season as he led the Trojans with 3 interceptions last year to go along with 67 tackles and 1 blocked punt. Nickell Robey and Jawanza Starling will also be two key players in the secondary to focus in on.
Defensive end Devon Kennard had the opportunity to take the NFL route like Kalil and Perry but he's decided to stay and it might be a great decision. Last season, Kennard had 29 tackles (4 for losses) along with 2 sacks and 3 QB hurries. Look for his production to increase dramatically.Prediction
Looking at the schedule, USC will have a fairly easy time of it. Major obstacles include at Stanford and Oregon and Notre Dame at home.
12-0 (minus the Pac-12 Championship)
Look for USC to be playing in the BCS Championship game and to come out on top; a bold play but one of the college football picks