#1 USC Football 2012 Preview

Southern California Trojans

Overall Rank: #1
Pac-12 Conference Rank: #1
USC College Football 2012 Team Preview
USC Team Page


It’s over; the ban has been lifted! After a two-year, NCAA-imposed ban from postseason play, the USC Trojans are once again allowed to participate in January football. This comes as a relief to many people: the school’s players and fans, the Rose Bowl committee, Reggie Bush, and the conference leaders. Never again will the Pac-12 commissioner have to sweat through a 6-7 UCLA squad having a chance at winning the conference title. Another party happy to have USC back are college football fans. How great would an Oregon-USC Pac-12 championship game have been last year? After all, the Trojans beat the Ducks in their regular season meeting and, at 10-2, USC had some claiming they were one of the best teams in the country, bowl bid or not. This year, Matt Barkley and company will have a chance to prove it.

2011 Record: (10-2, 7-2)
2011 Bowl: Ineligible
Coach: Lane Kiffin (18-7 at USC, 25-13 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kennedy Polamalu
Defensive Coordinator: Ed Orgeron

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Curtis McNeal, RB, 1,005 yards
Passing: Matt Barkley, QB, 3,528 yards
Receiving: Robert Woods, WR, 1,292 yards
Tackles: Dion Bailey, LB, 81
Sacks: Hayes Pullard, LB, 4; Wes Horton, DE,4
Interceptions: TJ McDonald, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Marqis Lee, C Khaled Holmes, OL Kevin Graf, K Andre Heidari, DE Devon Kennard, DB Nickell Robey

Key Losses: FB Rhett Ellison, OL Matt Kalil, LB Chris Galippo, DL Nick Perry

It might be easier just to skip ahead and read what USC is bad at because their weaknesses are few and far between. They have arguably the best quarterback in the country. Matt Barkley’s top five Heisman finish is pretty much in the bag and it is only August. Barkley is flanked by one of the best tandems of wide receivers in the nation, which includes the man many think is the very best at his position, Robert Woods. With All-American candidates on the offensive line, a 1000 yard back returning and a top flight kicker, USC’s scoring has no holes. The problem for opposing teams is the defense is pretty formidable as well. With athletes all over the front seven who will vie for Pac-12 first team honors and one of the best safeties in the country in TJ McDonald, it may be hard to come by points even while the Trojans keep scoring themselves.

Finding weaknesses in this team as far as on-field execution is concerned would be nitpicking. There are better running backs in the conference but Curtis McNeal is pretty good. There may be better defensive backfields by year’s end but USC’s overall unit should be stout. Really, USC’s struggles this year may come simply from expectations. After how everyone saw them play last year, only losing once in regulation all season, with no hope of a bowl game, people’s expectations for the Trojans this year are off the charts. Already being tabbed as the best team in the nation by the AP’s first preseason poll, many folks really think anything but an undefeated season would be disappointing. After all, USC has only two ranked opponents on their schedule. The first, Stanford, recently lost a pretty good quarterback, if you hadn’t heard. Other than playing Notre Dame the final week of the season, the only other notable opponent is Oregon and USC will get to play them at home.

The Bottom Line:
Teams often struggle with such lofty goals. If everyone thinks Southern California should cruise through their schedule without a single loss, it puts added pressure on each and every player. It will be Lane Kiffin’s job to control those outside voices and the team’s season outlook so they do not get ahead of themselves. At the end of the year, USC should be one of the top two teams in the country and be playing for a national title.

Projected Bowl: BCS National Championship

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 162.58 (51st in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 294.17 (15, 4)
Total Offense: 456.75 (21, 4)
Scoring Offense: 35.75 (16, 3)
Rushing Defense: 111.42 (18, 2)
Pass Defense: 263.33 (102, 9)
Total Defense: 374.75 (54, 4)
Scoring Defense: 23.58 (45, 3)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (67, 6)
Sacks: 2.58 (20, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 0.67 (2, 1)

Madness 2013 NFL Draft Rankings:
#1 Matt Barkley
#5 Robert Woods
#28 T.J. McDonald
#36 Khaled Holmes
#81 Wes Horton

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Rankings:
#34 Nelson Agholor
#50 Leonard Williams
#62 Jabari Ruffin
#63 Max Tuerk
#65 Zach Banner
#70 Jordan Simmons
#100 Kevon Seymour
#101 Darreus Rogers
#105 Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick
#134 Scott Starr
#237 Devian Shelton