It’s that time of the year, the night when Mark Schlabach’s Way Too Early Top 25 is released by ESPN. This time USC football is ranked No. 3 going into 2017.
Clemson won the national championship over Alabama on Monday night in a rip-roaring conclusion to the college football season, prompting everyone’s favorite prognosticating piece of content of the year: Mark Schlabach’s Way Too Early Top 25. The USC football team, fresh off a scintillating Rose Bowl win over Penn State, rank No. 3.
Ahead of the Trojans is No. 1 Alabama as expected, along with No. 2 Florida State. The Noles, the other red-hot three-loss team at the end of the 2016 season, won their final five games of the season, and seven of eight out with the lone loss coming in a three-point thriller to Clemson.
The title-winning Tigers rank fifth behind Penn State, while Pac-12 foe Washington sits at eighth, Stanford 14th and Washington State 23rd.
USC earns their ranking due to a nine-game winning streak, along with a bevy of talent returning –namely quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Ronald Jones. They’ll also face a schedule that is slightly less difficult in 2017 than it was in 2016, with Alabama nowhere to be seen.
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Even still, they’ll open the season with MAC champ and Cotton Bowl loser Western Michigan, before hosting Schlabach’s No. 25 Texas in Week 3. Sandwiched between them is a likely tilt against in-state rival Stanford.
The Pac-12 slate is still be determined, but the Trojans have opened their conference schedule against the Cardinal in four of the last six seasons, and both teams have September 9th free of non-conference games.
Will Clay Helton’s USC football team live up to the hype in 2017?
If they can replace receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and All-American offensive tackles Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler, they should have a good chance of success. But the jury is still out, given the disastrous 2012 campaign.
The season kicks off in 235 days. Is it college football season yet?