USC Football Post-Spring Top 25 Round Up: Where Trojans Stands In Rankings

Mar 8, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans football helmets during spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans football helmets during spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

USC football made it out of spring camp with great strengths on offense, but injury and inconsistency concerns have limited the Trojans’ rise in post-spring rankings.

Just as Too-Early Top 25s are a fixture in January, Post-Spring Top 25s have begun to crop up as expected following the completion of camps around the country. For USC football, spring only made the prospect of ranking a talented but questioned squad more difficult.

There’s no resolution at quarterback, though observers agree that the Trojan offense will be in good hands. There are even more questions on defense, where injury has made the defensive front a major concern.

Still, there’s no denying the weapons at Clay Helton’s disposal, even as the media wonders at his ability to wield them.

Here’s a look at where USC stands in the latest preseason rankings:

Sports Illustrated — No. 19

USC checks in at No. 19 in Sports Illustrated’s Post-Spring Power rankings:

"Despite losing three-year starting quarterback Cody Kessler, the Trojans offense enters 2016 in excellent shape. Replacing Kessler has proved to be more of a contest than expected, though that’s largely a positive, resulting from redshirt freshman Sam Darnold putting up a strong fight for a job that seemed likely to be handed down to Max Browne. Whoever ultimately prevails inherits an attack that brings back nine starters, including top running back Ronald Jones II and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. On defense, the Trojans are already facing depth issues on the defensive line due to Scott Felix’s positive test for a banned substance and Kenny Bigelow’s torn ACL."

The Trojans dropped from No. 16 in the January version of the Way-Too-Early Top 25.

Oklahoma tops SI’s rankings followed by defending national champion Alabama, who will face off with the Trojans in the season opener.

Including the Crimson Tide, USC’s 2016 schedule features five ranked teams in SI’s view.

Other teams to note: No. 9 Notre Dame, No. 11 Stanford, No. 17 Washington, No. 23 Oregon, No. 25 Washington State

Bleacher Report — No. 17

The late-teen theme continues for the Trojans in Bleacher Report’s Top 25 After Spring Practice:

"It’s never dull with USC, a program that’s hardly ever lacking in talent, but since Pete Carroll returned to the NFL, has seemed to be in near-constant turmoil. Helton’s hiring as the permanent coach was meant to stabilize things, and assuming he makes the right choice at quarterback, then all the pieces are there for success."

This time, it’s Alabama who tops the rankings despite their own questions at quarterback, followed by Clemson, Florida State, Michigan and LSU, though there’s little separation in that top five.

The remainder of USC’s schedule includes four other ranked squads.

Other teams to note: No. 11 Notre Dame, No. 14 Stanford, No. 18 Washington, No. 22 Oregon, No. 23 Washington State

College Football News — No. 19

Pete Fiutak took on the tough task of compiling a Post-Spring College Football Ranking of All 128 Teams:

"The quarterback situation is going to be the focus with Max Browne and Sam Darnold battling it out, but there’s no real wrong answer considering the loaded receiving corps will make either one look great. The offense will be better, stronger, and more consistent, and it might have to be – hello, opener vs. Alabama – considering the defensive front seven welcomes in five new starters."

LSU takes the No. 1 spot with a wealth of NFL talent coming into their college prime. Alabama occupies the No. 4 spot.

Fiutak’s list is far less pro-Pac-12 than others, but unlike the other rankings, UCLA makes an appearance quite high at No. 16.

USC has just four Top 25 teams on its schedule in this iteration.

Other teams to note: No. 9 Notre Dame, No. 17 Oregon, No. 23 Stanford, No. 30 Washington, No. 35 Utah, No. 38 Washington State, No. 47 Arizona, No. 50 Arizona State, No. 54 Cal, No. 70 Colorado, No. 80 Oregon State

Campus Insiders — No. 15

USC’s highest ranking thus far comes from Campus Insiders, Rich Cirminiello’s Post- Spring Top 25:

"Clay Helton gets his first chance to disprove the notion that Troy could have been pickier when choosing a permanent head coach. As usual, the Trojans have no shortages of talent, though a new quarterback must be broken in, and the D-line remains a serious question mark."

Though Clemson fell short of the title in 2015, the Tigers hold the top spot ahead of No. 2 Alabama.

The Trojans stand as one of six Pac-12 schools ranked and are due to play seven of the Top 25.

Other teams to note: No. 8 Notre Dame, No. 9 Stanford, No. 18 UCLA, No. 19 Oregon, No. 22 Washington, No. 25 Utah

Fox Sports (Mandel) — No. 21

Stewart Mandel’s updated (Way Too Early) Top 25 features USC outside the Top 20:

"Surprisingly, fourth-year junior QB Max Browne did not come out of spring the clear starter over redshirt freshman Sam Darnold. Whoever wins the job will benefit from a veteran O-line and playmakers like JuJu Smith-Schuster. All-American Adoree Jackson and CB Iman Marshall lead a potentially stingy secondary, but USC has some glaring holes up front following DT Kenny Bigelow’s offseason knee injury."

USC was ranked No. 17 in Mandel’s original rankings right after the national title game.

Alabama ranks No. 1 despite a load of talent gone in the NFL Draft, while Florida State and Clemson follow closely.

Other teams to note: No. 11 Stanford, No. 13 Notre Dame, No. 16 Washington, No. 19 Washington State, No. 22 Oregon

Fox Sports (Feldman) — No. 23

Bruce Feldman’s preseason Top 25 features USC in their lowest ranking of the bunch.

"No one has a tougher schedule. The non-conference: Alabama in Texas, Utah State and Notre Dame. Overall, they’re playing 11 teams that went to a bowl game last year. Clay Helton’s group has speed and some talent, especially among its underclassmen, but there’ll be a new quarterback (likely junior Max Browne with redshirt freshman Sam Darnold hot on his heels) and the D-line is a major question. A big plus: Helton brought back defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, who was missed the past two years."

The Trojans are second to last of six Pac-12 teams featured. Surprisingly, Washington reigns as the highest ranked in the conference. However, Feldman noted in his introduction that the batch of Pac-12 teams have him stumped and he was not exactly confident in where to put them.

With Clemson and LSU outranking them, Alabama sits at No. 3.

Other teams to note: No. 10 Notre Dame, No. 13 Washington, No. 16 Stanford, No. 21 Oregon, No. 22 Washington State, No. 25 UCLA