USC gets major love in preseason Top 25 from Sporting News
On Monday, Sporting News’ college football expert, Bill Bender, released his post-spring, post-transfer portal deadline Top 25.
The Pac-12 occupied three spots, all inside the top 15.
Bender ranked Utah eighth, Oregon ninth, and USC 14th.
Here’s what Bender wrote on the Utes:
What changed? Utah coach Kyle Whittingham enters his 18th season with the program. The Utes picked up Florida linebacker Mohamoud Diabate in the transfer portal. He had 89 tackles for the Gators last season.
Lowdown: The Utes have high expectations after making their first Rose Bowl appearance in 2021. Utah has won the Pac-12 South three of the last four seasons. Quarterback Cam Rising returns along with top rushers Tavion Thomas and Micah Bernard. Diabate should be an impact player on the defense. Utah gets a prove-it game at Florida in the opener.
And what he wrote on the Ducks:
What changed? Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning took over as head coach, and Auburn quarterback Bo Nix transferred to Oregon. Colorado safety Christian Gonzalez was among the other gains from the transfer portal. The Ducks lost leading rusher Travis Dye to USC.
Lowdown: The quarterback battle between Nix and Ty Thompson has yet to be resolved. Byron Cardwell steps into a feature role in the backfield, and a young group of receivers that includes Troy Franklin and Seven McGee. The defense returns Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe, a pair of potential first-round picks. The opener at Georgia will be telling.
And, finally, what he wrote on the Trojans, who will have a major clash with Utah in mid-October that could have wide-reaching implications:
What changed? Everything? Riley is now the head coach, and he brought Texas A&M offensive line coach Josh Henson to run the offense and Alex Grinch from Oklahoma to run the defense. Caleb Williams and receiver Mario Williams and Dye were the high-profile adds, and Pitt receiver and Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison could be next.
Lowdown: Riley’s exit from Oklahoma and transfer portal games give USC an exciting offense built around a Heisman Trophy candidate in Williams. Depth up front will be an issue, but the offense will still be exciting with those playmakers. It might take a cycle before USC is a true College Football Playoff contender, but Riley has put together enough pieces that the Trojans are already must-see TV again. A Pac-12 championship isn’t out of the question.