No. 4 USC

The school that brought us John Wayne, O.J. Simpson and Will Ferrell is garnering a lot of hype. Imagine that, Pilgrim.

Gould Headshot square

The Trojans are everybody’s favorite to win the Pac-12. And sophomore Sam Darnold, who went 9-1 after taking over the starting QB job in late September, seems to be the pre-season favorite to win the Heisman.

That said, Phil Steele, who combines the statistical fascination of Warren Buffett with the aplomb of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, pointed this out:

``USC does not fare well when picked high in the pre-season AP poll.’’ In 2012, he noted, USC was the pre-season No. 1, and 2015, it was a pre-season No. 8.

In both cases, it finished unranked.

Phil doesn’t say anything about USC’s history in the pre-season TMGcollegesports Super 16 rankings.

But I’m not buying any of that. It says here that the Trojans are going to have a mighty nice year. They’ll beat Washington in the Pac-12 game and punch a ticket to the College Football Playoff.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Going into their third full season under Clay Helton, the Trojans are still young. But Helton obviously has recruited well. And he and his staff have coached ’em up well. That’s a good combination at a legendary powerhouse.

Unlike their chief Pac-12 rival, Washington, the Trojans are playing a very competitive nonconference schedule: Western Michigan, which played Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl last January; Texas, which has hired the galaxy’s hottest coach, Tom Herman, and at Notre Dame, which will be able to install all kinds of trick plays and other chicanery because of its crackdown on rampant media coverage.

To sum up, O.J. has been paroled. But there will be no excuses for anything less than a stellar USC season.

And by the way, the actor who would have looked the best in costume astride Traveler, Victor Mature, did not, alas, attend USC.[/membership]