The number 13 is the magic number for the USC Trojans heading into 2010. 13 games stand between them and an undefeated season; 13 teams stand between them and a the number one spot in the Associated Press rankings.
If USC finishes atop the AP poll, an unlikely chain of events will have to occur.
First and foremost, USC must run the table and complete the season a pristine 13-0. Even in the best of times under Pete Carroll with vaunted defenses and prolific offenses, the Trojans had trouble navigating through the Pac-10 unscathed. With issues of depth along the offensive line and throughout the roster, USC will find themselves brawling with the likes of Arizona and Oregon State in hostile environments on the road. As much as I would love to see USC show up the NCAA and go 13-0, the lack of depth, increasing parity within the conference, and three tough road games won’t lend itself to that kind of success.
For the sake of argument, let’s pretend USC surprises me and compiles the magic 13 wins. Would they be able to surpass the 13 teams ahead of them?At 14, USC is in a position where they certainly could move up to number one. Over the course of the season, many teams will fall and it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for USC to win the AP title.In a recent survey conducted, respondents said they wouldn’t punish USC when casting their ballot simply because the school is on probation. One writer even has USC penciled in at number 6 to open the season.
Unfortunately, the circumstances don’t seem to lend themselves to such a climb. USC’s strength of schedule isn’t very impressive. The non-conference games don’t feature any marquee match-ups, and the Pac-10 is considered to be a tier below the SEC and Big XII. USC would have a chance to knock out No. 11 Oregon, but they would need help with the other teams. Looking at the teams ahead of USC, it isn’t impossible to think every team will incur one loss. Many of the thirteen teams ahead of USC meet and will incur at least one loss. For USC, the best-case scenario for the BCS title game would involve a two-loss team winning the title in a sloppy, unimpressive performance.
Even if every team currently ahead of USC has a loss, the Trojans won’t be allowed to play in a bowl game per NCAA sanctions. At the end of the year, I find it extremely hard to believe that the Associated Press would vote USC #1 after not having played in over a month as other teams get one final chance to showcase their talents.
In a year without a bowl game, all USC can do is charge on to the field and win every game on the schedule. However, that might not even be enough to secure a title to validate the season. Either way, 2010 will be an exciting year as football is just around the corner.