Preseason college football is closer than you may think, March 3rd to be exact for the USC Trojans. After landing what Rivals.com calls the best recruiting class in 2015, an infusion of young talent has raised the expectations to the top. What will be presented now is called an FPI, an ESPN configuration that estimates an individual teams strength.
While many of these rankings can be flawed, the value of an early forecast can signify what direction your program is heading towards. Just last season, the top three teams in the Preseason FPI (Florida State, Oregon and Alabama) made the inaugural College Football Playoff. As you keep that in mind, here are some of the notable numbers from the 2015 Preseason FPI Ratings.
What's worth noting, well lets start on the offensive side of the ball.
ESPN Stats and Information values the USC Trojans offense as the No. 15 unit heading into the season. Led by redshirt senior quarterback Cody Kessler and captain center Max Tuerk, the anchors of the offense return. USC must replace All-Pac-12 tailback Buck Allen, but the combination of Justin Davis and Tre Madden (along with Ronald Jones) could provide the Trojans a nice spark with a mixture of speed and shear power in the running game.
While the Trojans lose anchors on each level with Josh Shaw, Hayes Pullard and Leonard Williams heading to the next level, an infusion of young talent all across the board give USC one of its most athletic defenses in recent memory.
The combination of Su'a Cravens and Adoree Jackson as athletic playmakers give USC an elite edge over most opponents, while freshmen Marvell Tell and Iman Marshall awaiting their first reps. Not to mention the talented group of linebackers entering the fold, complementing the talents of Anthony Sarao, Lamar Dawson and Michael Hutchings.
USC's offense ranks third in the Pac-12, according to the FPI Rating, while its defense is second in the Pac-12, only trailing Arizona State. Where Stats and Information really like USC, however, is over on the special teams unit. Time will only tell how this team gels over Spring Football and Fall Camp, but the pieces are in place for a top-10 campaign.