To Get Me Through Off-Season: Way-Too-Early Predictions for 2012

Yes, I know. There are too many of these. There are so many things that could happen between now and when fall camp begins. But because I need some form of football to tide me over, here are my optimistic realistic predictions (as of now) for the 2012 season.

While we’ll be in better shape than we were at the season opener for last year, I don’t think the Trojans will be firing on all cylinders yet. I see Barkley perhaps showing a little rust, maybe throwing a pick or two. Based on Woody’s outlook now, I don’t think he will be the main feature as Kiffin and Co. try to keep him recovering and healthy. I do expect Lee to have a monster day. And despite giving up a couple touchdowns, I see our defense coming hot out of the gates and giving a nice, strong showing.
USC – 35 HAWAII – 14

It’ll be a fun road game, but the Orange will be outmatched. They might get a hot start, but Barkley and Co. will diffuse the crowd quickly. I see the offense still working through some things, and we see Flournoy and others step to the plate when we take the lead. I predict McNeal having a breakout performance. The defense might be affected by crowd noise and what not, but will find their footing and TMac will have some picks.
USC – 38 SYRACUSE – 14

This will be our first big test of the season, and I expect it to get interesting. I do think the offense, by now, will be in full swing. While the Stanford defense will cause some trouble and pull some stops, Barkley and Co. will simply be too much for them. Hard to predict the Stanford offense with the quarterback position being a question mark, but I see the speed of the defense causing them major issues in the second half. I predict this game will be close at half, but the Trojans will pull away by the 4th quarter.
USC – 28 STANFORD – 14

Cal will be better this year, but not good enough. Some injuries might take their toll on the starting squad, so we might get treated to our up and comers. If Barkley throws at least four touchdowns by the fourth, Kiffin will sit him out and whoever ends up as our backup will get some playing time. That being said, I don’t think Kiffin will let up so that the backup can get some “real” experience, even if the Bears score.

Another big road test for the Trojans, and this one is gonna get interesting. Rice-Eccles will be packed, and the Utes will be hungry to avenge last year’s loss. Utes will come out ready to play, and this will a showdown. Crowd noise will affect things, and I see both offense and defense having some slip-ups. I see the Trojans taking the lead early, but the Utes beginning to chip away at it as the game goes on. This game will come down to the 4th quarter, and this is where Barkley will have his first Heisman performance. Kiffin will get pass-happy in the 4th, and Barkley and Co. will be on fire. The defense is going to have a tough time with John White IV, but will make the necessary stops. It’ll be tough, but I think the Trojans will come out on top if they keep their head in the game.
USC – 24 UTAH – 17

This is a scary game, as Kevin Price will have had time to adjust to their new system and will likely be playing hot. The game in Utah will take a toll on the Trojans, and this game could end badly. However, as I’m trying to stay positive here, I think anyone who takes the place of a starter will step up to the plate. Offense and defense alike will be tired, but with Price’s offense, Kiffin will keep starters in the game as long as he can. The Husky Defense will be better, but will eventually get worn down by the Trojans. I predict this game could get a little ugly, but the Trojans will find a way to win.

This will be a nice game to give the starters a rest and let one of our backup quarterbacks take the lead. The Trojans will score a lot early, and Barkley will be pulled out of the game by the 3rd quarter. Some new faces will get some playing time, and this should be an easy win.

Those who were injured should be back and healthy, and the Trojans will roll. I see the defense putting in a lights-out performance. If it hasn’t happened already, Kiffin will try something clever, whether it be a two-point conversion, fake field goal, or fake punt. The Trojans will score on this, and will squelch any excitement coming from the Arizona stands. This will be a solid performance for the Trojans that will set up nicely for next week’s showdown.
USC – 38 ARIZONA – 17

And here’s the game that will be a big determining factor in our postseason fortunes. The Coli will be rocking and both teams will be raring to go. Both defenses will make some stops, but we all know that this game will most likely come down to who gets the ball last. Barkley will have another spectacular day, but so will the Ducks, who will be eager to do to us what we did to them last year. I see the back seven of the defense showing up big when things might look bleak. Both teams will give everything they’ve got. There will be two-point conversions. Intangibles will be a major factor. This game will come down to the final seconds and/or overtime. We may even see shades of the Stanford game last year, and if this happens, the Trojans will do anything to not have a repeat.
USC – 49 OREGON – 45

Here are two scenarios for this game, depending on the outcome of the Oregon game.
Trojans loss – If the Trojans lose to Oregon, then this will be where they take out their anger. Barkley, Lee, and Woods will make a killing. Once the Trojans come out ahead early, Kiffin will mix it up with running backs and maybe give Morgan a chance to take the reins. The defense may be as stifling due to likely injuries from the Oregon game, but will still play well.
Trojans win – Kiffin will try to get ahead early so starters can rest. Barkley will again sit out by the 4th quarter, so the backup can play. After last year, Arizona State will not be taken lightly and Kiffin will lay it on thick.

As we have seen in past years, there is always that one game where the Trojans throw up on themselves, and I hate to say this might be it. The Bruins will do better than many think, and I expect them to be miles better under Mora. I expect the crowd to be a lot closer to 50/50 Bruins/Trojans than last year. The Bruins will come out hot and perhaps even (dare I say) dominate the 1st quarter or MAYBE even the half. However, after halftime, the Trojans will get their head in the game. The offense will begin to wear down the defense and the defense will get to the offense. This game will not be another 50-0, but the Trojans will still win handily. A spark in the rivalry will be re-lit.
USC – 28 UCLA – 17

Kiffin will be looking to showcase Barkley as the Heisman ceremony draws near, and this will be the place to do it as we close the regular season. The Trojans will be feeling good and looking to put on a good show for an energetic Coliseum crowd. Notre Dame will simply be outmatched.
USC – 35 NOTRE DAME – 10

So there’s my optimistic prediction for the 2012 Regular Season. Of course, it’s all speculation and anything could happen between now and November 24th. But I really think Kiffin will keep the players focused on each game rather than the hype. We’ve got one heck of a leader in Barkley, and that will pull us through the tough moments.

Of course, any game could be an upset, but here are the ones I think are the most likely to be upsets:
UTAH – If the Trojans aren’t prepared or encounter some key injuries, it could be a rough night. I don’t see the Utes winning by a wide margin, but I could see them scoring a touchdown or a field goal in the final seconds to put them ahead.

WASHINGTON – The Utah game is bound to give us some injuries, and this is where our depth issues could become a nightmare.

OREGON – I don’t think we need further explanation for this one.

UCLA – I think this one’s a long shot, but the Trojans can’t go into this game with a light attitude. Again, Mora appears to be cleaning things up in Westwood and the Bruins should be far better than they were last year.

Leave your opinions below. Tell me where you think I’m right or wrong (politely, please :D). I based all of this off of what I’ve read or heard, so if you’ve heard otherwise, feel free to say so.

Here’s to a happy, healthy offseason!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Conquest Chronicles' writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Conquest Chronicles' writers or editors.

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