2011 USC Trojans Predictions and College Football Futures Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 7/9/2011
There should be a whole lot of optimism at USC right now. They have a highly-regarded quarterback with a fair bit of experience under his belt right now. They have a Top 5 recruiting class coming in. Despite an 8-5 season last year there should be lots of cause for optimism. There isn’t, though. Or there might be, but it doesn’t matter at all — this is totally a lost season.
They are not eligible for the postseason thanks to Reggie Bush, so they are just going through the motions this year. They will spin it that every game matters and all that, but we all know that that is not true. USC doesn’t play football because they love the game. They play football to win bowl games.
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There is nothing to play for this year, but Lane Kiffin and company will still be on the field, and they are still going to be tough. Probably.
What can you say about Lane Kiffin? To outsiders he seems like a bit of an idiot. Actually, he seems like a massive idiot to me. There are two important groups who he obviously impresses, though. First, he keeps finding people to hire him — and to impressive, high-profile jobs. Second, he can weave magical tales to recruits. Even his 2012 class is shaping up fine despite the restrictions and uncertainty.
We’re in some unprecedented territory here with Kiffin. Despite this being his third head coaching job it’s the first time he will have coached a second full season in one place. At this point, then, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to the things you normally speculate about with a coach in his second year — how much progress he shows, whether his key players get better, and so on.
My gut tells me not to be wildly optimistic, but a lot of teams have invested a lot of money in him, so there has to be something there that we just haven’t been able to see yet.
At the helm is Matt Barkley, and it’s hard not to be optimistic about him. He’s a wildly talented guy, and while his first two years haven’t always been stellar he has shown flashes of brilliance and clear progress. The third season is often when guys really figure things out and show what they are capable of.
He has an offensive line that has a few more questions than would be ideal. It returns only two starters, though Matt Kalil at left tackle is a very nice player. They will have a solid-but-not-outstanding running game to block for. Senior Marc Tyler is likely to carry more of the load than anyone,, but there isn’t an obvious superstar among the group.
There are definitely stars at receiver, though, and Barkley shouldn’t have a problem finding them. Robert Woods is set to be a star, George Farmer was the top receiver in the 2011 class, and redshirt freshman Kyle Prater can play, too. All in all, if a few things fall into place it could be a nice offense.
USC is known for fielding great defenses. Monte Kiffin is known for coaching great defenses. Neither came even close to happening last year. The defense allowed more than 400 yards per game last year and was the biggest reason the team struggled so badly. It should be better this year, but it is hard to be confident that they certainly will improve. There are some nice pieces in place, but they are very short of proven stars so the Kiffins are going to have to find a way to fit everyone together and make this unit better than it has been. Much better.
2011 USC Trojans Football Schedule
USC can’t win anything or play in a bowl game this year, but they do have plenty of chances to play spoiler. In the second week of the season they welcome Utah to the Pac-12, and they will be looking to make the Utes regret their move up in class this year. They also play three games against top-level teams hoping to be in the BCS picture right up to the end — Notre Dame, Stanford, and Oregon.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, they have to travel to play both the Irish and the Ducks. The Oregon game comes in the second last week of the season and could be a huge game to watch if the Ducks are undefeated up to that point. Given the scandals facing both schools, headline writers will have fun with that game as well.
2011 USC Trojans College Football Futures Odds
They can win their division or conference, and they can’t go to a bowl game, so there is nothing to bet on and no odds posted.
2011 USC Trojans Predictions
Five games on the schedule are easy wins — or at least they had better be. Four more are games that Kiffin needs to win to prove he is the man for this job. That leaves the big three games I mentioned before. They could and should win one of those three, though I don’t think they are better than any one of the teams. Put that all together and they should comfortably match their eight wins of last year, and could win as many as 10 games. With nothing to play for as an incentive, though, I have real concerns about motivation and discipline.
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