Athlon projects USC Football in Fiesta Bowl, missing playoff berth

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images /

The latest college football bowl projections from Athlon Sports have USC Football in the Fiesta Bowl, just missing out on a playoff berth.

USC Football’s latest 2017 bowl projection may disappoint Trojan fans, but at least the scenario would provide an intriguing matchup.

Athlon Sports released their bowl projections for the coming season on Wednesday, placing USC in the Fiesta Bowl against Ed Orgeron’s LSU Tigers.

The battle against a former Trojan coach would bring plenty of storylines to the table. Orgeron was a long-time and beloved assistant at USC before helping the Trojans rally in the 2013 season as the interim head coach following Lane Kiffin’s firing. When he was passed over for the permanent job by Steve Sarkisian, Orgeron left the program under less than friendly circumstances.

The man who replaced Orgeron for the Las Vegas Bowl in 2013 was current USC head coach Clay Helton, who followed a similar but ultimately more successful trajectory when he was made interim head coach following Sarkisian’s midseason firing. Unlike Orgeron, Helton was promoted to the full-time gig after guiding USC to the Pac-12 South title.

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However, that juicy matchup pales in comparison to the prospect of making the playoffs in 2017, which is every USC fan’s hope.

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Instead, Athlon projects a Top 4 of Washington, Florida State, Ohio State and Alabama, with the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide squaring off in the title game.

In that scenario, the Trojans will have made it to the Pac-12 Championship game only to lose to the Huskies in what would essentially be a playoff play-in game in Santa Clara.

Athlon’s Top 25 for 2017 features USC at No. 5, making them the team on the outside looking in.

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Last month Sporting News predicted a brighter future for USC, putting the Trojans back in the Rose Bowl, this time as a playoff semifinal. They projected USC to face and best Florida State, advancing to play Alabama in the College Football Championship Game in Atlanta.