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College Hotline - Pac-12 football: USC game-by-game predictions for 2016

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Aug 24, 2016.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    (Credit: USA Today Sports)

    My view of the Trojans is no different this year than any year, even though they have a new quarterback, Max Browne, and a new head coach in Clay Helton, who’s not entirely new to the role thanks to the annual comedy show that is USC football.

    The Trojans have the personnel to win the conference if that personnel is maximized. Of course they do.

    But it has been a long time since the Trojans played with the combination of urgency, toughness and discipline required to win the big games and not lose the small ones.

    (How long? See the note below).

    Can Helton make it work? Count me as skeptical, in part because he’s never made it work — this is his first turn as a permanent head coach — and partly the schedule is far beyond difficult.

    The Trojans play the Nos. 1, 8, 10, 14, 16 and 24 teams in the AP preseason poll, and only two are at home. (And don’t overlook the September Saturday-Friday road back-to-back.)

    Best five-loss team of all time?

    Coach: Clay Helton
    Season: First
    Record: 1-1 (both games as interim head coach — in different seasons, no less)
    Win totals by season:
    Job security:
    Won’t ever be more solid than it is right now.
    Notable: The Trojans have failed to win the conference title for seven consecutive seasons, their longest drought since the 1950s.

    *** Previous installments:

    Arizona predictions
    Arizona State predictions
    Oregon State predictions
    Oregon predictions
    Colorado predictions
    Utah predictions
    Cal predictions
    Stanford predictions

    Here we go …

    Sept. 3: vs. Alabama (in Arlington)
    Result: Loss
    Record: 0-1
    Comment: Not expecting a blowout. Trojans will hang around well into the second half before Bama’s running game takes control.

    Sept. 10: vs. Utah State
    Result: Win
    Record: 1-1
    Comment: As trap games go, this is the trappiest of ’em all.

    Sept. 17: at Stanford
    Result: Loss
    Record: 1-2/0-1
    Comment: As with the opener: Trojans hang around, the defense wears down, and they leave town with another L.

    Sept. 23: at Utah (Friday)
    Result: Loss
    Record: 1-3/0-2
    Comment: Brutal back-to-back roadies on a short week against the most physical teams in the conference. If only USC had a defensive line …

    Oct. 1: vs. Arizona State
    Result: Win
    Record: 2-3/1-2
    Comment: Relief.

    Oct. 8: vs. Colorado
    Result: Win
    Record: 3-3/2-2
    Comment: Momentum.

    Oct. 15: at Arizona
    Result: Win
    Record: 4-3/3-2
    Comment: Here they come.

    Oct. 22: Bye

    Oct. 27: vs. Cal (Thursday)
    Result: Win
    Record: 5-3/4-2
    Comment: An undefeated October is essential given the insanity of September and November.

    Nov. 5: vs. Oregon
    Result: Win
    Record: 6-3/5-2
    Comment: New/old defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast figures out the Quack Attack, with some help from the sputtering Quack Attack.

    Nov. 12: at Washington
    Result: Loss
    Record: 6-4/5-3
    Comment: Not quite up to this challenge. (On the bright side for the Trojans: They won’t fire Helton a few days after losing to UW. But they might only score 12 points.)

    Nov. 19: at UCLA
    Result: Win
    Record: 7-4/6-3
    Comment: It has been a decade since the Crosstown Showdown was close. That changes this season, with the Trojans winning late thanks to Ronald Jones.

    Nov. 26: vs. Notre Dame
    Result: Loss
    Record: 7-5/6-3
    Comment: Start with Alabama, end with Notre Dame … all credit to the Trojans for taking on the challenge. Now, enjoy the Foster Farms Bowl.

    Next: UCLA

    * Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline

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    by Jon Wilner

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