2015-2016 Football Previews (Pac-12) – Trojans
The USC Trojans are set to enter the 2015-16 NCAA Football season with high expectations. We’ve seen this from them before in recent years, but there’s reason to believe that this is the time they live up to those lofty predictions.
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Pac-12 2015-2016 College Football Preview – USC Trojans
Head Coach: Steve Sarkisian
2014 Record: 9-4
Odds to Win College Football Championship (from Bovada): 16/1
Odds to win Pac-12 (from GTbets): 9/5
Season Win Total (from 5Dimes): 8.5
At this point in the offseason, with spring camp behind us, the Trojans are a top-five team in terms of 2016 National Championship odds. They’re fifth at 16/1 odds, placing them behind only the Ohio State Buckeyes (3/1), Alabama Crimson Tide (15/2), Auburn Tigers (9/1) and TCU Horned Frogs (10/1).
Last season, USC went 9-4, with their losses coming against Boston College, Arizona State, No. 19 Utah and No. 9 UCLA. They did win impressive contests against No. 13 Stanford and No. 10 Arizona, and they capped off the year with a barn-burning 45-42 victory against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the National University Holiday Bowl.
The Trojans have the luxury of bringing back 14 starters from last year’s squad. Continuity won’t be tough to come by on this roster, but the one to focus on first is quarterback Cody Kessler.
Led by Kessler, this group has a chance to be one of the most potent offenses in the nation. In his junior year last season, Kessler completed nearly 70 percent of his passes. he also tossed for 39 touchdowns to just five interceptions.
Along with Kessler, USC has one of the best receiving core-offensive line combos in the country. Nelson Agholor has left, but JuJu Smith, who was a Freshman All-American last season, will be a new No. 1 option. There’s also Steven Mitchell, and Adoree’ Jackson — another Freshman All-American.
Javorius Allen leaves a hole at running back after leaving, but the team hopes to use Justin Davis and Tre Madden as a tandem replacement.
As for that offensive line, it could very well be the deepest and strongest aspect of this roster. Needless to say, Kessler and crew will have plenty of protection in the backfield.
The Trojans will have to deal with the loss of one of the best defensive ends in the country in All-American Leonard Williams — as well as the team’s leading tackler Hayes Pullard. USC isn’t without talent on that end of the field, but it’s never easy to replace a core cog from within your system.
Another area of question is at placekicker. New guys Matt Boermeester and Alex Wood will both compete for the position, but it’s tough to say who will land the job for Week 1.
The other area we’re going to consider a weakness is a bit more subjective, and it may be a bit unfair, but we’re going to hit it anyway.
This team has not lived up to expectations the way fans and boosters would like to see. The program has recovered about as well as it can following the down years as a result of NCAA violations, but we just can’t completely count them as favorites until we see them avoid losses to less-talented programs.
USC Trojans 2015-2016 Prediction: 10-2
With fall football camp nearing, USC is pegged at a projected season win total of 8.5. I know we haven’t seen an elite Trojans squad hit the field in quite some time, but that number seems low, even given any negative speculation.
Arizona State, Oregon, (possibly) Stanford and UCLA look like the biggest chances for USC to either prove themselves or walk away with losses this season. Assuming the team doesn’t drop any contests against lower-level opponents, you’re probably looking at a nine- or 10-win program this year.
USC Trojans 2015 Football Schedule
- Sat, Sept 5 vs. Arkansas State
- Sat, Sept. 12 vs. Idaho
- Sat, Sept. 19 vs. Stanford
- Sat, Sept. 26 @ Arizona State
- Thu, Oct. 8 vs. Washington
- Sat, Oct. 17 @ Notre Dame
- Sat, Oct. 24 vs. Utah
- Sat, Oct. 31 @ California
- Sat, Nov. 7 vs. Arizona
- Fri, Nov. 13 @ Colorado
- Sat, Nov. 21 @ Oregon
- Fri, Nov. 28 vs. UCLA
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