ESPN insider weighs in on the 2022 Trojans: 'USC becomes a national title contender if...'
A 4-8 football team a year ago has legitimate Pac-12 title aspirations and an outside shot at making noise in the College Football Playoff race a year later.
That’s what adding one of the brightest young coaches in the sport and a Heisman-contending quarterback and a Biletnikoff-winning wideout and a league-leading running back and a number of defensive starters all in one offseason will get you. The Trojans flipped their fortunes around in about six months, from hiring Lincoln Riley at the end of November to putting a capper on the best transfer class in the country in May with Jordan Addison’s commitment.
As of publication, USC is the favorite to win the Pac-12 over at FanDuel.
It has the fifth-best odds to win the national championship.
ESPN extraordinaire Bill Connelly handicapped the various title contenders earlier this week, putting them into tiers based on how many “If…” scenarios have to come to pass. For instance, Alabama has two ifs. Utah has four.
USC, according to Connelly, has five.
Connelly highlights a few key areas, with three of those ifs focused on the defensive side of the football. Can USC’s front generate more havoc plays? Can new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch continue to fine-tune his plan of attack? Can the secondary be better? Connelly also asks if Williams’ play from November was just a youngster learning the ropes or a red flag.
The key question hovering over everything, though, is whether this incredible amount of turnover in such a short amount of time can actually work. Can the team be more than the sum of its parts?
As Connelly wrote:
If … this much change actually works. A team that went 4-8 last season has the fifth-best national title odds. New head coach Lincoln Riley could more than double USC’s win total and still get labeled a disappointment. Granted, it’s partially his fault—he’s the one who brought in transfers like quarterback Caleb Williams (Oklahoma) and receiver Jordan Addison (Pitt)—but it’s probably too much, too soon.