The time has finally come Trojan fans, the official start to the College Football season will kick off Wednesday and Thursday over at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Calif. for the 2014 Pac-12 Media Days.
Open up this beauty to find some of the best players in the Pac-12, featuring the top-rated defensive trio of Leonard Williams, Hayes Pullard and Su'a Cravens. Read into the Media Guide and much-deserved players like Kevon Seymour, J.R. Tavai and Soma Vainuku along with quarterback Cody Kessler made vital front-page appearances.
The Trojans enter the season with some much-needed brevity, led by the addition of first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian, making the upcoming Fall Camp and Media Days all the more intriguing for what's projected to be another 10-win season.
Take a look back and recognize that USC averaged just over 73,000 fans per home game, which drastically declined from the pursued optimism during the 2012 campaign in which the Trojans averaged over 87,000 fans per game. But that should change quickly, assuming USC can take care of some business early in the season.
As the squad prepares for the season opener against Las Vegas Bowl opponent Fresno State, the Coliseum crowd will expect much more from a Pac-12 squad with the most returning starters on its current roster. While we might have to hold off until 2016 for the anticipated Cowboy Classic, the current squad still has plenty of promise in the Pac-12.
If USC can play well enough to surpass the Bruins and Sun Devils in the South before taking down Oregon, Stanford or maybe Washington in the Pac-12 Championship, the return trip to Pasadena could be in sight. If that were to transpire, the Trojans would play in the Rose Bowl during all but one presidential term since 1929. While USC was not able to accomplish that feat during President Obama's first term, the phrase two more years never rung so true for the Cardinal and Gold. Take it away, USC legend Ronnie Lott.
Football is coming.— Ronnie Lott (@RonnieLottHOF) July 22, 2014
Since USC, Notre Dame and UCLA are the only three teams never to battle an FCS opponent, it's worth mentioning that the Trojans in fact face the toughest non-conference schedule *statistically speaking* in the nation. USC's 12-game schedule, with non-conference games against Fresno State, Boston College and Notre Dame, features nine teams that played in a bowl game, six teams that won at least eight (including four that won 10-plus) and four teams in the final AP rankings.
"We will not shy away from the expectations that USC football embodies, we will embrace them. I came here to win," Sarkisian said in bold print on the 2014 USC Football Fall Media Guide.
Looking forward about a month on the calendar and the Trojans are 92-17-9 all-time in home openers and 66-20-5 in conference openers, which both represent tough games right out of the box for this developing football team.
Second-year starer Cody Kessler, who despite splitting the reps in each of the first two games, managed to produce the 11th best offensive statistical season in Cardinal and Gold history, leads the charge offensively. Kessler's strong rapport with returning coach Clay Helton (one of two all-time undefeated coaches in USC history) will help ease the transition into a fast-paced, heavy rushing attack with plenty of quick-strike passes.
Working with a roster that features 30 scholarship freshmen, 27 sophomores, 29 juniors and only 16 seniors, the Sarkisian-led youth movement (that also has a staff all under the age of 50) continues to reap the benefits of mixing youthful energy with savvy preparation. We know the glorified history. USC has the best Pac-12 record, most Heisman Trophy Awards, most National Championships and all that, but the Trojans want to get back to winning 11 or more games for the first time since 2008.
Can Darreus Rogers live up to expectations of wearing acclaimed wideout No. 1. Can freshman JuJu Smith fill the shoes left from electric athlete No. 9 Marqise Lee, and can any of the Trojans top running backs put up seasons worth mentioning in the same sentence as retired Hall of Famers No. 32 O.J. Simpson and No. 33 Marcus Allen.
According to said Media Guide, the last history-shaping game in USC history took place in 2002 when the Trojans clinched their first-ever BCS Bowl Berth, the Trojans could be in store for an all-important (both in standings and in recruiting wars) Pac-12 South Championship Game against those cross-town rival Bruins during late November.
Ten years seems far too long since USC's last National Championship, but the death of the BCS brings hope that winning the Pac-12 Championship could resurrect those dreams in the college football playoffs. Feel free to dive in to that Media Guide for guilty pleasure, but rest assured the position previews will keep coming in the next few weeks.
PAC-12 MEDIA DAYS SCHEDULE
VIEWING SCHEDULE ON THE PAC-12 NETWORKS/DIGITAL
(WED) 9:35 a.m. - UTAH 10:12 a.m. - ARIZONA
11:17 a.m. - Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott
11:31 a.m. - USC 12:12 p.m. - OREGON
12:50 p.m. - WASHINGTON STATE
(THU) 9:38 a.m. - COLORADO 10:16 a.m. - ARIZONA STATE
10:54 a.m. - OREGON STATE 11:32 a.m. - UCLA
12:11 p.m. - WASHINGTON 1:04 p.m. - STANFORD