FiveDimes recently released over/under regular season win totals for college football teams.

Here is an early season look at the USC Trojans in the Pac 12.

Over/under

FiveDimes has USC at 8.5 regular season wins. Last year, the Trojans went 8-4 in the regular season. The line features a better return on the over at -105, while the under is at -135.

The upside

The USC offense should be special. Cody Kessler returns, along with one of the best offensive lines in college football. Now-NFL wide receiver Nelson Agholor is gone, but that shouldn’t hut the offense too much, with two freshmen All-Americans still around to catch the ball.

Why isn’t the over/under higher? The defense and the schedule.

The defense will have talent, but losing Leonard Williams and Hayes Pullard will leave big holes on a defense that struggled at times last season.

The schedule also is daunting, but the home slate should feature the Trojans as possible favorites in all games. The Trojans square off against Arkansas State, Idaho, Stanford, Washington, Utah, Arizona and UCLA.

The Trojans likely won’t be heavy favorites in those contests, outside of Arkansas State and Idaho, but those are all games USC can and, in most cases, should win.

The downside

The defense and the schedule are the downers in southern California.

That defense will not only have to replace Williams and Pullard, but it also needs to find an identity. After allowing two touchdowns in the first two games of 2014, the Trojans laid an egg on the road against Boston College during a 37-31 loss. The Trojan defense allowed 28 or more points in five of the final nine games.

Those weren’t all losses, and the Trojans do have the offense to get into a scoring challenge with almost any team in the nation, but USC won’t be able to run through the Pac 12 with an unreliable defense.

The reason for the better defensive need (and USC will have plenty of talent; that’s never the problem), is that this schedule will be daunting, especially on the road.

USC must travel to Arizona State, Notre Dame and Oregon. Mix in games at Colorado and California, and USC will have a challenge awaiting it on each road trip.

The verdict

The sanctions levied against USC should no longer be a major issue. Depth has been the biggest problem with USC during the last few years while on probation, so that will help develop more consistency for the Trojans this season.

To get to nine wins, USC must do well at home, in order for an opportunity to not be perfect on the road. Those seven home games are winnable, but not definite. Games against Arizona, Stanford and especially UCLA may not include either team as a heavy favorite. Washington and Utah also should be a challenge.

The key for the Trojans is that they don’t have to be perfect. That’s a good thing. USC can afford three losses, which will likely happen (for the record, it will be Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame). However, USC should be scary good on offense, giving it enough to reach the nine wins.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*