National signing day 2014 has come and gone, so too has Spring Practice. With that, some of the negative backlash surrounding USC’s decision to replace Lane Kiffin with another Pete Carroll disciple in Steve Sarkisian.
Sarkisian eased some of the concern with a nationally ranked 2014 recruiting class, which he followed up with promising signs of a revamped Trojan offense. The Trojans have yet to put all the pieces to the puzzle together as incoming freshman won’t join the program until fall, but that hasn’t stifled their allure.
The Golden Nugget hotel in Las Vegas released early betting lines for the 2014 and among some of the more surprising picks is USC favored to win by double digits over Arizona State and Notre Dame. The Trojans lost to both teams on the road last season and get the Sun Devils and Irish at home this year.On the heels of the lines being released, Sporting News predicts the Trojans will make the National University Holiday Bowl in a matchup with Michigan.
Pac-12 teams Sporting News picked to play in more marquee bowl games are the Sun Devils (Valero Alamo Bowl), UCLA (AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic) and Oregon (Sugar Bowl for a playoff semifinal, then advancing to the College Football Championship Game).
On paper, a Holiday Bowl berth would appear to be a natural step forward for the Trojans, who finished last season with a 10-4 record — culminating with a resounding win over Fresno State in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.
However, the Trojans have plenty of work ahead of them in order to qualify for the Holiday Bowl or more.
The Trojans’ conference schedule will challenge them early with a trip to Palo Alto in the second week of the season and they later may have to brave inclement weather in consecutive weeks with road games against Utah and Washington State on Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, respectively.
While an appearance in the Holiday Bowl would be a first for the Trojans and it theoretically would be a step up in the bowl game pecking order, expectations for Sarkisian’s Trojans generally speaking are higher.
With a talented roster in tow and freshly removed from a 10-win season, bowling in San Diego may not be what the fan base has in mind.