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Expectations are high for the USC Trojans despite a young team and a brutal schedule

What will Clay Helton and the USC Trojans need to accomplish on the football field to meet those expectations?

Harry How/Getty Images

Before divulging what a failed 2016 USC season is in terms of wins and losses, it would be prudent to recap the tumult from the end of last season, and take into account the strengths of the current team. Many alumni and Trojan faithful were upset with Pat Haden's hiring of Clay Helton after an emotional win against UCLA - it seemed as though it was a knee jerk reaction that saw no vetting, no national search, and thus far has resulted in no wins after the interim tag was removed.

Many national college football publications state the Pac-12 South is USC's to lose - the Trojans are loaded at every position save defensive line. Redshirt Junior QB Max Browne was one of the most highly recruited players in the country as a high school senior, and has had 3 years in the system. Browne has a veteran offensive line, explosive wide receivers and two highly gifted running backs. The Men of Troy boast one of the most talented secondaries in the country, gifted linebackers, and both kickers return from last year. Talent is never an issue, but how those blue chip recruits are managed in game situations and developed is at USC, especially since the departure of Pete Carroll. Great talent, justifiably, brings great expectations.

09/03/16 vs. Alabama (Neutral site)
09/10/16 vs. Utah State
09/17/16 at Stanford 
09/23/16 at Utah
10/01/16 vs. Arizona State 
10/08/16 vs. Colorado
10/15/16 at Arizona
10/27/16 vs. California
11/05/16 vs. Oregon
11/12/16 at Washington
11/19/16 at UCLA  
11/26/16 vs. Notre Dame

Given the returning lettermen, which includes 17 returning offensive starters or players with game experience, as well as 13 from the defense, anything less than ten plus wins makes Helton's seat red hot. USC faces 5 ranked opponents according to the 2016 Sports Illustrated preseason list: Defending national champion Alabama #2, Stanford #11, Oregon #17, UCLA #24 and Notre Dame #9 represent the biggest challenges.

Coach Chris Peterson has the Washington Huskies looking like a formidable foe, much like Coach Don James and the great Husky teams of the 1980's and early 1990's. Moreover, the USC family will not tolerate many more trips to the Las Vegas, Holiday, and Emerald Bowls, respectively - that in and of itself represents disappointment for such a storied program. Helton has hired his own staff, including much beloved DC Clancy Pendergast, and he has conducted his first Spring practice. Recruiting genius Tee Martin has been elevated to OC. Soon we shall see if Helton is in fact worthy of one of the most coveted jobs in all sports.

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