The venerable betting publication, the Gold Sheet, picks USC to defeat Washington State, 34-31.“Cougars terribly unbalanced, but Trojans have taken some hits at CB,” the Gold Sheet says.
Since we are making comparisons, USC went 10-4 last year. Let’s take away the Hawaii game and say 9-4. That means this year’s team will need to win four of the next five games including the bowl game to match it.
Did anyone think this year’s team was supposed to be worse than last year? No one had an idea about the quarterback last year. Or that Marqise Lee would be hurt most of the season? I blame it all on Josh Shaw.
I mentioned earlier how Pete Carroll’s first had some similar traits to Steve Sarkisian’s with close losses. But there were also differences.
Excerpt: “In 2001, three of those first five games were to top 12-ranked teams. USC lost 10-6 to No. 12 Kansas State. This year, the Trojans lost to teams unranked at the time of the game (Boston College, Arizona State) and No.19 Utah.
“And maybe the biggest difference is the feeling the cupboard was bare at USC in 2001. This USC team is coming off a 10-win season and was ranked in the top 15 in nearly every preseason poll.”
Do Pete Carroll and Steve Sarkisian have something in common?
In 2001, three of Pete Carroll’s losses in the first five games were to top 12-ranked teams. USC also lost 10-6 to No. 12 Kansas State.
This year, the Trojans lost to teams unranked at the time of the game (Boston College, Arizona State) and No.19 Utah.
USC freshman Juju Smith’s daring attitude was responsible for Adoree Jackson’s 100-yard kickoff return against Utah, when he told Jackson to bring the ball deep out of the end zone.
“The way I see it, we needed a game-changer and to get the momentum back,” Smith said. “As a true freshman I’m hard-headed.”
Meanwhile, did you know Smith’s caught 10 passes the past two games but none in the second half of those contests. Full story
This week I’ve heard from fans with two familiar themes: Scholarship reductions and depth are costing USC games and the Pac-12 is not what it once was, which means it is tougher to win games.
I agree it is tougher because the quality of coaching is excellent (which is why hiring a coach is more important too). But Oregon seemed to be doing fine under Chip Kelly in the new spread era. And the Ducks have never had recruiting classes close to USC.
This is my basic issue: Why were USC’s recruiting classes ranked so much higher on average than other Pac-12 schools? Do other teams have the nation’s No. 1 draft pick (Leonard Williams). How many schools have a Javorius Allen or Su’a Cravens?
I just don’t see depth costing USC games. Last year, the Trojans closed with an 7-2 record and depth wasn’t considered a fatal issue. They lost to Notre Dame and UCLA. Teams you could say were better though maybe not.
This year’s losses are to Boston College. Arizona. Utah. I wouldn’t take the talent of any of those teams. And if you asked any of those coaches if they would take USC’s top 50 players or their own top 75, what would the answer be?