The expectations are incredibly high for this USC Trojans team headed into a season that most expect to place them in the college playoff. Not only are team expectations high but so are those around sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold, who is the favorite to win the Heisman at +450. The pressure is on the Trojans and they come out of the summer up against a team that went 13-1 last season.
But this game will not be as a much sledding up hill as we thought coming out of last season, with head coach P.J. Fleck leaving and taking a sizable amount of his recruits with him. The quarterback/wide receiver duo of Zach Terrell and Corey Davis is also gone. The offense will not be nearly as potent and the defense was never good enough to pick up the slack.
The Trojans, on the flip side, have their quarterback coming in strong and will be at home to start off his season. He also has an established running game, with returning running back Ronald Jones II coming off of his 1,082 yard rushing campaign to give USC a healthy balance.
On defense, Marvell Tell III and Iman Marshell combined for four interceptions last year and are both going to be headed into their junior years against the fresh Broncos quarterback. The pass rush might be down but the secondary is talented and deep. Look out for lots of packages with extra corners out on the field. The Trojans will be playing plenty of teams that will want to pass first, and much like in the opener against the Broncos, they will win on defense via the turnover margin. This game only stays close because starters will be pulled.
USC wins 45-20