We are so close to the start of the season! Can you taste it? Was that a weird thing to ask? Maybe! All I know is that every offseason the wait for football seems longer than the last - I'm just ready for kickoff.
No need to watch any football this year. I know exactly what's going to happen.
This team returns a bunch of ultra-talented and highly-motivated players on both ends of the ball, led by none other than the Heisman-hopeful Sam Darnold. The quarterback enters his second year as a starter looking to build on what was an impressive campaign as a redshirt freshman where we saw hi tally over 3,000 passing yards and 31 touchdowns in just 10 starts, including a Rose Bowl win over Penn State.
He will have some help on offense. Ronald Jones II will be leading the backfield and is a dark horse candidate for the Heisman. The receiving corps is young; where they lack in experience, though, they make up for it in talent. The likes of Michael Pittman, Jr, Deontay Burnett, and Jalen Greene should see their fair share of balls thrown their respective ways. This offense will be fun to watch.
The defensive side of the ball will need contributions from some of the young fellas; replacing Adore Jackson, among others, is not easy. It will need to be a group effort and, again, like the offense, there is talent galore. Cameron Smith is a name to watch, as his productivity and consistency will be what helps him lead this unit.
The Trojans' schedule is an interesting one as it has them playing twelve games in a row without a bye: key games include Stanford, Norte Dame, UCLA, and a potential "trap game" at Washington State. As I pointed out in a previous piece, we will know how the offensive will hold up fairly early.
My Bold Prediction:
USC plays well. Really well. They start the season rattling off four impressive wins over the likes of Western Michigan, Stanford, Texas, and California. The road match against Washington State is the only hiccup during the regular season - their offense is potent and the Trojans have a bad week. From here, though, the schedule is manageable as they run the table for the rest of the season.
They finish with a record of 11-1, a record which is good enough for them to be matched up against the Washington Huskies in the PAC 12 Championship. The Trojans are tested but Sam Darnold proves to be too much as he essentially carries the team to victory and cements their spot in the College Football Playoff.
USC is now in the final four. This is where things get a little hairy. I'm going to double-up on my predictions here and say that the other three teams will be Alabama, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State. It's hard to say who would be seeded as what but, hey, the entire point of this post is to make predictions. So let's keep this thing rolling:
(1) Alabama vs. (4) Oklahoma State
(2) Ohio State vs. (3) USC
Ohio State boasts NFL talent throughout its roster. This game could very well be one that the Trojans can't win. If they do, though, I'm not sure there is enough fire power to hang with the likes of the Crimson Tide.
Ultimately, I see the USC Trojans making all the way to the National Championship but falling just short as they are defeated by Alabama, 30 - 24.
Hey, hopefully I'm wrong! I probably am. We can come back to this article to point and life at how wrong I was when the season ends.
For now, though, let's just embrace the fact that football is back.