Sports Illustrated has released their preseason top 25. The Trojans come in at number 8. There are a few notable departures from other preseason polls such as the Coaches Poll and other expert polls such as Phil Steele's. For Starters, while many polls do have USC in the top 10, most of the others also have Oregon in the top 10 or top 5 ahead of USC. The reasoning offered for both USC and Oregon's rankings in the SI Poll seems to be overly quarterback dependent. USC brings back a great quarterback and the Ducks have a great unknown at the position. Sports Illustrated drops the Bruins to 14th for the same reason while seemingly ignoring many other factors.
With Sports Illustrated's analysis largely resting on the quarterback position (have a good qb move up, unknown qb move down) SI curiously has Notre Dame ranked as the 4th best team in the country. Notre Dame's quarterback Malik Zaire, however, has thrown all of 35 passes yet SI ranks the Irish number 4 in the nation, comfortably ahead of UCLA and Oregon whose quarterbacks are question marks. In fairness, Notre Dame almost has to be better than the Irish team that came to Los Angeles at the end of the season (they did have few if any starters left on defense just switched quarterbacks and were capping off a 4-game losing streak). 4th place does seem more than a tinge high, but you can (and certainly many have) make similar argument about USC's generally high preseason rankings as well.
Other teams in the Pac 12 that made Sports Illustrated's preseason top 25 are Arizona at 15, Arizona state at 17, and Stanford at 18.
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