It has already been a decade since the USC Trojans last made a national title game appearance and six or seven seasons since the last time the team was considered a legitimate contender. Every year USC sits near the top of the national title rankings and futures odds. However, that respect is more a product of the program's history and huge expectations. The truth is, the Trojans have not been very good since Coach Pete Carroll left for the NFL and started the revolving door of coaches.
The arrival of former Washington Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian may have been the first step in laying a championship foundation for a program that is used to greatness. In 2014 Sarkisian lead the Trojans to a nine-win season in a tough Pac-12 conference while dealing with an undermanned roster due to injuries for most of the year. This year may be the season USC steps back onto the college football map. Let's take a closer look at the Trojans title odds with predictions and analysis. All odds come from Bovada
USC Trojans Odds to Win 2016 College Football National Championship
USC lost four underclassmen to the 2015 NFL Draft-which was the most in the NCAA-and because of that, inexperience and roster depth are now one of the team's primary concerns. The Trojans continue to recruit well, so talent will not be an issue, but harnessing it into team play and actual wins is an entirely different problem. Starting quarterback and potential Heisman candidate Cody Kessler should help ease any inexperience and nerves as USC's up-tempo offense runs through him. Many college football experts believe the team has one of the best offensive lines in the Pac-12, which will be key to Kessler controlling a pass-heavy system and finding time in the pocket to make the correct throws.
USC Trojans 2015 Schedule
Sept 5: Arkansas State
Sept 12: Idaho
Sept 19: Stanford
Sept 26: @ Arizona State
Oct 8: Washington
Oct 17: @ Notre Dame
Oct 24: Utah
Oct 31: @ Cal
Nov 7: Arizona
Nov 13: @ Colorado
Nov 21: @ Oregon
Nov 28: UCLA
There is no light schedule in the Pac-12, which is why whoever comes away with the conference championship is almost a shoe-in for a playoff invitation. The Trojans play two huge road matchups against Notre Dame and Oregon, both of which are receiving Top 10 national title futures odds, and hosts its annual crosstown rivalry game against UCLA during the final day of the season. On paper the schedule feels like a two- or three-loss situation-the conference is that tough-but if USC can come away with a single loss then the team will be drastically overachieving and almost certainly earn a playoff berth.
USC Trojans 2016 National Title Odds and Trends
Title Odds: +1600
2014 ATS Record: 7-6; 4-3 home
2014 Totals Record: 6-7; 5-2 home
USC is receiving the fifth-best national title odds but falls drastically from the Top 4 teams who are receiving anywhere from +350 to +900. The issue for the Pac-12 powerhouse is its tougher-than-normal schedule, which could produce a two-loss conference champion and throw a wrench into the playoff rankings. USC is definitely not on the Ohio State or Alabama level, but the team has talent, is well-coached and has enough clout with voters and the media to make a national title run.
USC Trojans 2016 College Football National Championship Picks and Predictions
USC has the added benefit of playing in the Pac-12, and if the final playoff rankings come down to including a Pac-12 champion or a school from a lesser conference, the Pac-12 will always come out ahead-similar to last year's TCU and the Big 12 versus Ohio State and the Big Ten. The Trojans are being projected as one of the best schools in the conference, and a couple of notable college football experts are predicting a USC playoff berth. T he team is only in its second year of a new rebuilding process under Sarkisian and might not be ready for a championship run.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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