The USC Trojans are as talented as any team in the country, but their lack of depth will hinder their ability to go over their regular season win total in 2014.
This will be Steve Sarkisian’s fifth time coming to USC, as he first arrived on campus as a student athlete in the early 1990s—before serving as a graduate assistant, coach and offensive coordinator.
Sarkisian put together a solid 34-29 straight-up record in five seasons at Washington, which is important to consider when making your college football picks on a weekly basis, as that program went 0-12 the year before his arrival.
NCAA football experts are expecting a smooth transition for the Trojans this year, as he’s familiar with the Pac-12 Conference and inherits a squad that had four different head coaches in a 65-day span last year.
It’s very difficult to back the Trojans going OVER their regular season win total of 8.5 (-193) at Pinnacle Sports due to being under NCAA sanctions in recent years, as they’ll be unable to filed more than 68 recruited players on scholarship in 2014.
USC’s probation officially ended on June 10, which will allow the program to compete for national championships in the near future, but the lack of depth in concerning.
Sarkisian’s coaching staff has already dealt with a couple key injuries in campus, with outside linebacker Jabari Ruffin and defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow being lost for the season.
The Pac-12 welcomes back a ton of starting quarterbacks this season, with Cody Kessler being part of that group—completing 65.4 percent of his passes for 2,968 yards and 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions during his sophomore campaign.
He earned MVP honors in the team’s 45-20 blowout victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs in the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl, as he managed to throw for a career-high 345 yards.
Kessler has plenty of talented runners behind him to keep the offense balanced, while also having the ability to stretch the field in targeting wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who averaged 16.4 yards per reception last year.
There’s no question that the Trojans have a challenging schedule ahead of them, with their 12 games evenly split between playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and on the road, while also having to navigate through a murderous conference slate.
USC’s biggest game in my opinion comes in Week 2 against Stanford up in Palo Alto, as that’s a true litmus test in what can be expected from Sarkisian & Co., especially since star defensive tackle Leonard Williams will be facing off against a talented but young offensive line.
If the Trojans win that game—look out.
I’m going to recommend that readers look in the direction of the UNDER in this proposition offering, as the Trojans are going to find it hard to place healthy bodies on the field late in the season—proving problematic against the likes of UCLA and Notre Dame in their final two contests.
NCAA Football Pick: Under 8.5 regular season wins (+163) at Pinnacle Sports