When the 2012 preseason coaches poll was released the USC Trojans found themselves ranked No. 3 to start the season. The Trojans were a popular pick to make it all the way to Miami to play for the national title in 2012.
These mighty standards and hype placed upon USC was short lived and made last season a major disappointment.
The 2012 USC Trojans finished 7-6 including a loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. USC will look to put this disappointing season behind them and move on to what they hope will be a better 2013.
The 2013 version of the USC Trojans will have a noticeable difference that is the era after Matt Barkley. Barkley came to USC rated as one of the nation's top quarterbacks, but really never seemed to reach his full potential when it comes to accomplishing team goals.
The two-year bowl ban for USC in 2010 and 2011 had the biggest factor on that of course, but last season was his chance to shine and the team did not succeed. The USC Trojans will now turn to first-year starter Max Wittek to lead this team back to the dominant form we became accustomed to in the mid 2000's.
Wittek's first career start came last season against Notre Dame in the final game of the regular season. The Trojans, led by Wittek, fell to the Irish 22-13 in a very competitive game that went down to the final drive.
As with any team in college football the amount of success a team enjoys comes down to the play of the quarterback. USC will rely on Wittek to lead them and how he responds to the pressure of being USC's quarterback will be a major difference maker this season and years to come.
The schedule for USC in 2013 seems to be pretty favorable when it comes to home and away games. The Trojans play conference opponents Arizona State, Oregon State, California and Colorado on the road as well as long-time rival Notre Dame in South Bend this season.
One positive for USC is that they avoided having to face the Oregon Ducks in the regular season, but will have to face one of the conference's favorites to win it all the Stanford Cardinal.
The Cardinal handed USC their first loss of the 2012 season in an unusually low scoring PAC 12 game 21-14. The Trojans will look to adjust to a new quarterback this season and with the schedule ahead of them an 8-4 or 9-3 record should be judged as a success for USC this upcoming season.
I feel the Trojans are still regathering from the two year bowl ban in which a number of scholarships were taken from them and the lack of depth ended up being the death of USC in 2012.
I believe that trend will continue to rear its ugly head in 2013, but signs of improvements and depth will begin to show. USC, historically known as one of the top college football programs of all time, has had a couple down seasons compared to what they are used to and expect in Southern California.
This season will be a stepping stone for several seasons to come and as new quarterback Wittek gains experience the results will follow. USC will be back just like every top level program does in college football, but currently the cycle of winning seasons just isn't on the Trojans side. USC will be a decent team in 2013, but there is hope for the future with continued recruiting success.