USC Football: Game-by-Game Predictions For 2012
Whether the Italian Trojan graduated from Southern California, South Carolina, or South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, USC is worthy of their preseason No. 1 buzz.
USC fields the nation's premier wide receiver tandem of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, plus a breakout waiting to happen in running back Curtis McNeal.
Plus an underrated and mostly-intact defense led by T.J. McDonald (the other No. 7), a newfound balance of humility and arrogance under Lane Kiffin, and a kettle of pride bursting from the spout after two years of ineligibility.
So was there really any doubt in Heisman frontrunner Matt Barkley returning for his senior campaign to finish business?
An impressive and motivated 10-2 program in 2011, USC will fight on for postseason vindication throughout the entire season, but that's only a summer evaluation. Will the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and visited stadiums be as friendly come game days? As a formerly employed wristbander at Gate 28, left hand please:
Game 1: September 1st vs. Hawaii
Kiffin's coaching debut was a 49-36 victory over the Rainbow Warriors...the Rainbow Warriors! Aforementioned off-field circumstances, an undisciplined defensive performance, and a six-hour plane ride allowed the contest to be closer than it should have been, so anticipate a Week 1 downpour...or gust of wind.
USC wins 52-6
Game 2: September 8th vs. Syracuse (MetLife Stadium)
The last time USC Travelered to New York-Jersey was in 2000 for the Kickoff Classic at then-Giants Stadium against Penn State (insert snide joke or heated opinion here), in which they triumphed 29-5. It's bold of Los Angeles' unofficial NFL franchise to tackle the Big Apple media and residence of Eli Manning and Tim Tebow, especially when recalling the constant three-hour jetlag I endured over the last four years.
This game will be harder fought than you may think - about as blasphemous as the "mere" 38-17 result of this past season's encounter - as the Orange are 5-3 in this venue, but their 8-win 2010 has been long lost in the shuffle of conferences.
USC wins 39-18
Game 3: September 15th at Stanford
I vaguely remember being drunk on candy corn and angsty Kelly Clarkson ballads the night of USC's near triple-overtime upset of No. 6 Stanford. Of course, the Cardinal will have less Luck and Co. this time around.
I firmly believe that David Shaw's recruiting and coaching will keep Stanford relevant, but unfortunately it's too early in the season for Brett Nottingham or Josh Nunes to seriously compete with Barkley. Pac-12 vengeance begins in Stanford Stadium.
USC wins 45-24
Game 4: September 22nd vs. California
The Golden Bears don't boast too legitimate of a threat in 2012 aside from Keenan Allen and Isi Sofele, but this is still a rivalry game and potential hiccup. Kiffin will not stand for a Pete Carroll-patented inexplicable loss to an inferior team.
USC wins 35-7
Game 5: October 4th at Utah
The Utes struggled with a 4-5 conference record in their inaugural Pac-12 season, but more poise and familiarity is expected as they attempt to return to their non-AQ prowess of recent memory. The Trojans, however, will be looking to make a mid major out of them by the end of the first half in order to avoid needing another blocked field goal. The continual development of USC's rebuilding offensive line facing the likes of Star Lotulelei will be key.
USC wins 31-12
Game 6: October 13th at Washington
Strictly end zone to end zone, the best quarterback showdown of the conference in 2012 should be Matt Barkley versus Keith Price. Even stud cornerback Nickell Robey will have to admit humble defeat on a few plays, but this shootout will surprisingly come down to the undervalued valiancy of USC's special teams.
It seems like only yesterday that Andre Heidari wasn't permitted to try extra points in favor of Kiffin's two-point conversion-heavy offense, but a late game-assuring field goal?!
USC wins 44-38