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HOW I SEE EACH GAME UNFOLDING FOR THESE MEN OF TROY AND WHAT I THINK THE RESULTS WILL BE
I thought this would be a good annual feature on SoCal Sports Annals, my game predictions regarding the two college football teams that call the greater Los Angeles area home.
I don’t see any reason to waste any time on predicting how each game will go for the University of Southern California Trojans, so let’s get started on how I see USC’s contests unfolding along with what the results will be:
* Arkansas State and Idaho – Coliseum, September 5th and 12th:
HUGE BLOWOUT WINS
I put these first two opponents, who are both members of the mid-level Sun Belt Conference whom everyone knows are visiting the Coliseum for the big payout that USC is giving them, together because the only real difference between these programs is roughly 2,000 miles.
While Arkansas State’s Red Wolves are at least coming off a winning season, in the case of Idaho one may advocate for a mercy rule or a running clock after three quarters, the Vandals having won only one game in 2012, 2013 and 2014, which more than earns them the title of “Worst Football Program in the Nation”
If either of these teams – who have nothing to lose as that’s the only advantage they have – pull off an epic miracle for the ages and upset the Trojans (or even come close), the headlines in the Los Angeles Times’ sports pages need to read:
“WHY THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SHOULD DROP FOOTBALL”
* Stanford – Coliseum, September 19th:
A CLOSE WIN IN A VERY TOUGH GAME
Despite this Cardinal team from Palo Alto with the wacky but very entertaining band returning just four starters from a defense that has pretty much been the reason for all of the recent glory that has been enjoyed on Leland Stanford Junior’s “Farm”, to think that Stanford will just roll over for ‘SC would be quite ignorant for the Trojan faithful to do.
The reason? Simple. There’s too much talent on that roster and the culture of toughness that Jim Harbaugh (now the coach at his alma mater, Michigan) established is now firmly entrenched, and has been for some time.
* Arizona State – Tempe, AZ, September 26:
If this game were at home, I would be writing, “See Stanford” – never mind that last second “Hail Mary” touchdown that those Sun Devils used to shock the Trojans’ world last season.
Much like the Stanford game the week before, this will be an absolute war between two teams that are among the short list of Pac-12 South favorites; it will be the type of game where home field advantage may well be the deciding factor.
Then again, UCLA annihilated Arizona State in Sun Devil Stadium last year, dropping 62 points on them.
So you never know.
* Washington – Coliseum, October 8th (Thursday):
These Huskies from Seattle have seemingly been stuck in a rut for a while, winning an average of seven and a half games per season for the past few years.
Chris Peterson is continuing to build at U-Dub, and at this point it’s clear that they are not quite ready to put up a real challenge to USC.
Not in the Coliseum.
* Notre Dame – South Bend, IN, October 17th:
Like I said in this site’s ‘SC season preview, never mind the 49-14 woodshed beating that the Trojans put on their longtime rivals last year as that was a Fighting Irish team chock full of injuries who subsequently had little chance at retaining the Jeweled Shillelagh, a trophy that goes to the winner of this game.
This Notre Dame team is healthy now.
They’re loaded – ranked 11th in both the AP and coaches’ polls as the season opens.
They desperately want revenge for last season.
And the game is in South Bend, where the echoes will certainly be woken.
* Utah – Coliseum, October 24th:
Though it will be a tougher battle than the previous home opponent, Washington, will give them, because those Utes from Salt Lake City are the type of team that may not look the best on paper (although they DO have talent), but evoke much respect from everyone for their tough, scrappy, “anywhere, anytime” persona.
Indeed, I call Utah the Rocky Balboa of the Pac-12 because of that underdog, chip-on-their-shoulder attitude that they exude.
They have certainly been an asset to the conference since they joined in 2011.
Unfortunately for the Utes, that scrappy “Put your dukes up!” attitude won’t quite be enough for them to pull off a win at the Coliseum.
* California – Berkeley, CA, October 31st:
Make no mistake, I was impressed at the improvement that those Golden Bears from Berkeley made last year, going from one win in 2013 to having a real shot at a bowl game.
Their offense, led by quarterback Jared Goff, can score at will.
Their defense, well…that’s still another story.
If Cal can get into a shootout with the Trojans, they’ll have a chance at pulling off the upset.
‘SC has the personnel on defense to contain the Bear offense, however, and that will be the main factor in them winning their 12th straight game over the Bears.
* Arizona – Coliseum, November 7th:
CLOSE WIN IN A TOUGH GAME
This will be much like USC’s games with Stanford and Utah, U of A’s Wildcats from Tucson having both talent – led by Lombardi Award winner Scooby Wright (let the “Scooby-Doo” jokes begin) – and something to prove.
This will also probably have the same result, the Trojans using the advantage that their “Family” gives them at home to get a win.
* Colorado – Boulder, CO, November 13th:
Though these Buffaloes are the only team in the Pac-12 South who I don’t see as having a chance at representing that division in the Pac-12 Championship Game in Santa Clara on December 5th, I do think they are an improved program and have an outside chance at six wins and bowl eligibility.
As for belonging on the same level as USC, I have four words concerning that:
Not now. Not yet.
That’s why the Trojans should win at Boulder’s Folsom Field by roughly four touchdowns, or at least three TDs and a field goal.
* Oregon – Eugene, OR, November 21st:
Let’s just go over the facts:
These green and yellow-clad (except for when they use all those alternate colors in their uniforms) Ducks just played for the national championship for the second time in five years.
With a preseason ranking of 5th by the coaches and 7th by the AP, they are ranked above ‘SC in both polls.
The extreme talent that Phil Knight’s kingdom has enjoyed for more than five years is still there.
And the game will be in a place widely acknowledged by everyone to be the toughest in the Pac-12 and one of the toughest in the country: Autzen Stadium
Even though it won’t be a complete blowout, regarding the Trojans’ chances I quote Homey the Clown from the classic TV comedy In Living Color…
“I DON’T THINK SO!”
* UCLA – Coliseum, November 28th:
TO BE DETERMINED THE WEEK OF THE GAME
Since I began writing online, it’s been my policy to not predict what will happen in this Crosstown Rivalry before the game is played, which will be played for the 85th time.
You will just have to find out how I see this renewal of the Crosstown War unfolding and who I think will prevail on Wednesday, November 25th, the day before Thanksgiving.
Which will be part of some extensive coverage of what is the biggest sporting event in SoCal, complete with features and a full game preview.
The Tommy Trojan statue, a mainstay on the USC campus since 1930
COMING ON THURSDAY: Game-by-game predictions of the UCLA Bruins, so don’t miss it!