The college football season is near! USC will be coming into the 2018 season ready to defend their Pac-12 Championship, however they’ll also have a good amount of teams looking to knock the Trojans off their throne and most of them coming from the Pac-12 South. The Southern division of the conference has gone through a few changes during the off-season which included Coaching changes at Arizona State, Arizona, and UCLA. We ask the question. Who poses a bigger threat to USC in the Pac-12 South?
5. Arizona State Sun Devils
ASU comes into this season with a new head coach and brand new coaching staff. Herm Edwards might have been the most interesting and questionable coaching hire in the Pac-12, if not the nation. How much of a challenge will they be to the Trojans? Right now not much. The Sun Devils have to replace most of it’s starters of defense and not to mention the huge unknown of Herm Edwards coaching the college ranks. ASU also visits the Coliseum this year, where it’s been kind of difficult to defeat USC during the Clay Helton era.
4. Colorado Buffalos
You can flip Colorado and Arizona State in any order. The Buffalos took a step back last season, after winning the Pac-12 South. They also put a late scare into USC last season in Boulder. Could they be a threat to USC in the Pac-12 South? On USC’s schedule they’re sandwiched between two key road games in Arizona and Utah. The October 13th game at the Coliseum could potentially be a trap game, however with the Buffalos bringing back only 3 starters on offense, it’s hard to see them have the firepower to knock off the Trojans. Let alone push them for the Pac-12 South.
3. UCLA Bruins
1 through 3 can go in any order as they bring a big challenge to USC. Chip Kelly is back in the Pac-12 and across town in Westwood. The Bruins have talent on the current roster to challenge for the Pac-12 South and with any rival, poses a huge threat to knock off the Trojans. The question is their personnel. Chip Kelly has to change a team that ran a 4-3 defense and a pro style offense to fit his style of play of both sides of the ball. Not to mention get more production out of a defense that was historically bad against the run. Add uncertainty to the quarterback situation and a pretty rough schedule that includes Washington, Stanford, and Oregon, you have the Bruins sitting at three. The November 17th meeting at the Rose Bowl will be very interesting to watch.
2. Arizona Wildcats
The Wildcats are very dangerous team this year. They have experience by returning just about everyone on both sides of the ball including quarterback Kahlil Tate. Now they add Kevin Sumlin, who had a very similar team at Texas A&M. If there’s a year for the Wildcats to push for the Pac-12 South, it’s this season. USC defense gave Kahlil Tate and the Arizona offense fits for most of the game in the Trojans 49-35 victory. USC will meet the Wildcats in Tucson and coming off rough stretches with Stanford, Texas, and Washington State. They also have a favorable schedule as they avoid both Washington and Stanford. If there’s any team that can dethrone the Trojans from the Pac-12 South, it’s the Wildcats.
1. Utah Utes
The Utah Utes have been that team that has caught the Trojans eye year after year. They have a physical offensive and defensive line that has given USC fits in the past. Last season Utah had USC in a 21-6 hole at the half and was a yard away from potentially beating USC in the Coliseum. The question remains if Utah can sustain some stability and consistency to finally win the Pac-12 South. They have to travel to Stanford, UCLA, and Washington State while hosting Washington and Oregon. A key date to circle however is the meeting with USC on October 20th. The Trojans have lost the previous two meetings with the Utes in Salt Lake City. Utah tends to have USC’s number at home, could it be a similar story this season? You could say the winner of this game will once again control their destiny in the South.