USC Football sits at No. 5 in Athlon Sports’ ranking of all 130 teams in college football for 2017 as a contender for the College Football Playoff.
There has already been a number of preseason Top 25 rankings released across the internet, but Athlon Sports’ ranking of all 130 teams in college football released on Wednesday reveals even more about USC Football and the Trojans opposition for the coming year.
Clay Helton’s Trojans appear at No. 5 in the rankings, which falls in line with the national consensus that USC will be a contender for the College Football Playoff this year.
Here’s what Athlon had to say about USC:
"Thanks to the emergence of quarterback Sam Darnold, USC should be a playoff contender in 2017…Darnold is good enough to carry this team to a Pac-12 title on his own, but the supporting cast features a likely All-Pac-12 running back in Ronald Jones, as well as a solid group of receivers. The biggest concern on offense remains up front…Coordinator Clancy Pendergast proved to be one of the top assistant hires of last offseason, as USC’s defense limited opponents to 24.2 points per game despite major question marks in the front seven…The schedule features its share of challenges, starting with games against Stanford and Texas in September, along with road trips to Washington State, Notre Dame and Colorado."
USC isn’t the most highly ranked Pac-12 team on Athlon’s list. That distinction goes to Washington at No. 4.
The Trojans won’t be facing the Huskies this season unless they square off in the Pac-12 championship game, but USC’s 2017 schedule does feature a number of highly ranked opponents, including three September contests against programs ranked in the Top 30.
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In Week 2, the Trojans will face Stanford, which ranks No. 17. They’ll follow that up by hosting Texas the very next week. Though the Longhorns had a disappointing 5-7 2016 season, the arrival of new head coach Tom Herman has boosted their prospects up to No. 13 in Athlon’s rankings.
Then USC will finish out the month of September with No. 28 Washington State in Pullman.
The Trojans will also battle Notre Dame, ranking No. 20 on the expectation that the Irish, like Texas, will bounce back from a frustrating 4-8 2016 campaign.
Crosstown rival UCLA checks in at No. 33 in the rankings, followed closely by No. 34 Colorado. USC will finish off the season with the Buffaloes followed by the Bruins in November. Another challenger for the Pac-12 South, Utah, ranks No. 38.
The bottom half of the Trojans schedule includes No. 53 ASU, No. 65 Oregon State, No. 66 Arizona and No. 76 Cal. The lowest ranked team on USC’s plate in 2017 will come in the season opener against No. 83 Western Michigan.