With a school-record 39 touchdown passes, 3,528 yards passing, and a 10-2 record under his belt, it looked as if USC QB Matt Barkley had nothing left to accomplish and would declare for the NFL Draft. As ESPN’s Lee Corso says, “Not so fast, my friend.” Barkley will be one of the big reasons why the Trojans are set to rival the dominance of the SEC, which has claimed the past six BCS national championships.
Barkley is one of eight returning starters on an offense that could be the nation’s best. No one will have a better tandem at wide receiver than the Trojans with All-American Robert Woods (JR) and sophomore Marqise Lee. Woods set a Pac-12 single-season record with 111 receptions a year ago, while Lee added 73 catches, 11 for touchdowns.
Four starters return on the offensive line, minus All-American and first-round draft pick Matt Kalil, led by senior center Khaled Holmes. The line will pave the way for a talented backfield that added another star in Penn State transfer Silas Redd. Redd, a senior, is eligible immediately as part of the NCAA sanctions levied against Penn State last month.
Defensively, head coach Lane Kiffin welcomes back seven starters. The Trojans were young last year, starting three freshman linebackers. But, the best thing about freshman is…they become sophomores and with a year of experience under their belt, Hayes Pullard, Lamar Dawson, and Dion Bailey will lead an effective unit.
While the defense won’t be dominant, the USC offense is the reason why they may wind up in the BCS national title game next January. That and a favorable schedule that includes rivals Oregon and Notre Dame at home and early season non-league contests with Hawaii and Syracuse. The Trojans do have to travel to Stanford in week three, but the Cardinal will be entering year one without QB Andrew Luck.
With their high-flying offense, formidable defense, and a special teams unit that blocked seven kicks last year, USC has what it takes to run the table in the Pac-12 South. The Nov. 17th rivalry game with UCLA isn’t what it used to be (the Trojans destroyed the Bruins last year, 50-0) and the next week, the Men of Troy close the season at home against the Fighting Irish. Take that into a Pac-12 title game and come January, expect to see the Trojans in the BCS title game.