As we roll into November, the Trojan sports teams reach the most crucial part of their respective seasons. Rivalry games, top-ranked opponents and conference tournaments await for the football, soccer, volleyball, and water polo teams, and their hopes for a bright postseason hang in the balance.
So how can we depict these storylines through some weird analogy? Well, how about WEATHER REPORTS!?!
Here's a meteorological description of how each USC squad's season is looking going into the home stretch:
Warm sun, calm breeze this week, rolling thunderstorms in the coming weeks.
After a big win against Washington State, the football team has been given the week off by head coach Steve Sarkisian. Next week, they will get back to work for their final three games, all of which will take place in Los Angeles.
The Trojans' end-of-game failures against Arizona State and Utah have become a poison that have slowly killed their championship hopes with each passing week. With Utah's overtime loss to ASU last week, USC's hopes of winning the Pac-12 South only remain alive in a mathematical sense, and they will need a lot of outcomes to fall their way to make a miraculous comeback.
So where does that leave them? Well, a spot in the Alamo or Holiday Bowl is still possible, but Reign of Troy currently has the Trojans projected to play in the San Francisco Bowl...against Penn State. Oh, the storylines that could come from that matchup...
While the dream of a big year may be gone, a 10-win season and the chance for the Sark Regime to save some face is still possible, but in order to do that, the Trojans have to overcome the bowl-hungry California Golden Bears and then get revenge on the Bruins and Irish. With the mounting injuries, that's going to be a tall order.
Torrential downpours on Friday, followed by sunshine and increasing temperatures over the coming weeks.
Much like the football team, Trojan Futbol has been searching for a new identity under its new coach. That identity appears to be "Road Warriors." After losing five of six games at home, USC has spent the last two weeks winning four games on the road, including two in overtime. In total, USC has a road record this year of 8-0-2 and an overall record of 12-5-2. That will be enough to give the Women of Troy their first winning season and NCAA Tournament berth since 2010.
But there's still one game left to play in the regular season, and it's a match on Friday against UCLA at the Coliseum. The Bruins come in as the defending national champions and guaranteed at least a share of the Pac-12 title. They have 14 shutout victories this season and have won nine games by a margin of three goals or more. But while the numbers show that a blowout might be in the forecast, don't count out the possibility of an upset. Two years ago, USC upset UCLA in the dying seconds of overtime with a shot headed into the net from a throw-in.
Thick fog with no signs of letting up.
USC has reached the regional finals in women's volleyball in four consecutive seasons, but this year, their playoff outlook is as foggy as Martin Stadium was this past weekend. And bad news...the fog is getting thicker...
While Stanford and Washington duke it out for first place in the Pac-12, USC is one of seven teams below them that are caught in a logjam. The Women of Troy have a 6-6 conference record and a 16-8 record overall with eight games to go in the season.
To stay off the bubble in the NCAA Tournament hunt, USC will likely need to win five of those games. Five of the games on the remaining schedule are road matches against Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, and UCLA, all of whom are caught in the logjam for third place. The other matches are against bottomfeeders Cal and Utah and top-ranked Stanford.
This means that USC, a team that has built its success in recent years by dominating at home, will have to go on the same tear their soccer counterparts went on to ensure they will be playing well into December.
MEN'S WATER POLO
Intense heat wave with little respite. Stay hydrated.
Finally, the Vavic Dynasty is getting ready to fend off the latest challenge to their championship streak from some formidable MPSF foes. On Sunday, USC lost to UCLA for the second time this season, 10-8. It's the fourth defeat of the season for the Trojans, all of them coming by two goals or fewer. The team has three games left in the regular season against Long Beach State, UC Irvine, and Cal.
After that, USC will have to pull off some more clutch magic in the MPSF Tournament to have a shot at getting into the NCAA championships. The expansion of the NCAA Tournament from four to six teams offers USC a bit more leeway, but they will have to likely beat Stanford, Cal, and/or UCLA to get the automatic bid as conference champions; and this year, all three of those teams have beaten SC at least once.