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USC cracks top 25 ‘Future Power Rankings’

ESPN ranked the top 25 teams for the future — and USC is one of just three Pac-12 schools represented

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 23 UCLA at USC Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The USC Trojans are trying to take back the west, and so far it seems to be working. Head coach Clay Helton is doing his part to retain top-notched recruits on the west coast while also plucking highly sought after players from the rest of the country.

Helton’s crew is fresh off an 8-5 season that was a few plays away from perhaps the 10-win mark. Though they lost out on Bryce Young in the recruiting battle to Alabama for the class of 2020, it seems that they’ve started to learn from their mistakes and are pushing forward towards perhaps even landing the No. 1 overall player Korey Foreman, who hails from California himself.

The take back the west initiative is working so much so that USC has a top-10 recruiting class currently and ESPN recently pegged them at No. 17 in their future power rankings.

The Trojans were the third Pac-12 team represented, below Oregon at No. 8 and Washington at No. 14, no other Pac-12 team made the cut.

Here’s how Adam Rittenberg over at ESPN came to his power rankings:

The future power rankings, which always appear in the spring, hopefully provide a reminder of normalcy.

After examining quarterbacks, defenses and offenses, this list projects the top 25 teams for the next three seasons. The forecast covers the 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons, and factors in both current rosters and future recruiting classes, as well as coaching, program trajectory and other categories.

The team rankings obviously contain overlap with earlier versions, particularly at the top, but there’s some variance, too. Coaching success/longevity and potential coaching change is arguably a bigger factor when projecting how teams will fare going forward.

And here’s what Rittenberg had to say about the Trojans at No. 17:

Future QB ranking: 3
Future offense ranking: 7
Future defense ranking: NR

Scouting the Trojans: Coach Clay Helton remains on the hottest of seats, but he also could have his best team since 2016, when the Trojans won the Rose Bowl and finished No. 3 nationally. Then again, would a coaching change improve USC’s long-term forecast?

Here’s what we know: USC’s offense should be very good for the next few years. Quarterback Kedon Slovis could lead the unit through 2022 after a record-setting freshman season. Wide receiver projects well with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns in the short term and top 2019 recruits Bru McCoy and Kyle Ford beyond. Although coordinator Graham Harrell’s offense is pass-oriented, USC has options at running back, including speedy sophomore Kenan Christon. Offensive line is worth watching, as USC needs more consistency after a recent run of quarterback injuries.

The big key is upgrading a talented but sloppy defense, now under coordinator Todd Orlando. USC’s two-deep is filled with talented non-seniors such as linemen Jay Tufele and Drake Jackson, and defensive backs Talanoa Hufanga, Isaiah Pola-Mao and Chris Steele.

I, for one, seem to agree this is a fair spot for USC. Having landed Young at QB, and sure, they climb a few spots. But having Slovis in the backfield for at least two more years is a great start. Keeping Jake Garcia in the class of 2021 will also prove pivotal.

You can bet a 10-or-more-win season will also vault them up, and even perhaps past Washington in these rankings.

What are your thoughts on No. 17, fair? Too high? Too low?