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USC projected to finish 10-2 this fall

CBS Sports projects a first-place finish in the Pac-12 South

NCAA Football: Southern California at California Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The USC Trojans football team was recently pegged as the Pac-12 South Champions by CBS Sports, landing with a win prediction of 10-2 (8-1). They are the clear favorites to win the Pac-12 South as the next closest in the projection by CBS writer David Cobb was Arizona State at 7-5 (5-4).

Before we jump into USC, it’s important to take a look at the whole picture, and how they got there.

Predictions are based on talent returning, coaching turnover and recent recruiting success, among other factors. In some cases, the location of a game played a role in the prediction of who will win.

So, with that knowledge, here’s how Cobb penned the entire conference to finish:

Pac-12 North

Cal: 11-1 (8-1)
Oregon: 10-2 (8-1)
Washington: 8-4 (6-3)
Stanford: 6-6 (4-5)
Oregon State: 5-7 (3-6)
Washington State: 3-9 (1-8)

Pac-12 South

USC: 10-2 (8-1)
Arizona State: 7-5 (5-4)
Utah: 8-4 (5-4)
UCLA: 6-6 (3-6)
Arizona: 4-8 (2-7)
Colorado: 3-9 (1-8)

Now, on to USC specifically. A 10-2 record seems pretty fair, given their tough schedule that kicks off against Alabama. Even if they do drop the game to the Crimson Tide, the toughest in-conference game comes against North opponents Oregon and Washington. They should likely cruise through their Pac-12 South schedule.

Wins: New Mexico, at Stanford, Arizona State, at Utah, Cal, at Arizona, Colorado, Washington, at UCLA, Notre Dame

Losses: Alabama, at Oregon

Analysis: Even after the Trojans finished the 2020 recruiting cycle with the 10th-best class in the league, they still have enough talent to win the Pac-12. But a schedule that includes a neutral-site date with Alabama, on the road at Oregon and a regular-season finale against Notre Dame is daunting. Embattled coach Clay Helton is turning to former Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando to help the Trojans correct last season’s woes, and there’s enough talent back to make a turnaround feasible. Talent hasn’t been Helton’s problem, however, in his attempt to get USC in the playoff picture, and it’s hard to imagine the Trojans making it over the CFP hump this season.

That’s what the prediction says on the matter, and have to say I agree with the USC projection more than most. Can’t say I agree with an 11-win Cal team, nor a 4-win Arizona team but 10 wins for the Trojans sounds accurate.

I even agree with which games USC is likely to lose, though, the Washington defense will certainly pose quite a challenge. Remember, they’re the only team to truly shut down the Mike Leach Air Raid offensive attack for a continued stretch.

I absolutely see double-digit wins in the future for USC with Kedon Slovis in charge, it’s just a matter of whether or not coach Clay Helton can motivate the troops and continue to develop the talent around him, not just on the field, but on the sidelines as well.

So, I agree, but what about you?