How many games will USC football win in 2018? Win projections are in from ESPN FPI and S&P+ with the Trojans chasing another 10-win season.
With two months before the start of real football in September, USC football fans can at least dream about the upcoming season via statistical models and projections.
Two of those projections—ESPN’s FPI and S&P+—tell the tale of what may be to come in 2018.
FPI more or less predicts a nine-win season for the Trojans, with just three games below 50 percent win chance. Unfortunately, that could mean another slow start to the season, with expected losses to Stanford and Texas before a season-ending trip up versus Notre Dame. If correct, that would be the first ever home loss for Clay Helton.
Here are the full FPI projected win percentages:
UNLV — 96.7%@Stanford — 37.4%@Texas — 41.4%Washington State — 85.6%@Arizona — 66.7%Colorado — 94.9%@Utah — 60.1%Arizona State — 84.1%@Oregon State — 93.1%Cal — 72.4%@UCLA — 71.9%Notre Dame — 41.1%
Beyond the three expected losses, the Trojans should have the toughest time prevailing in pivotal road trips against Utah and Arizona.
CHECK OUT: Five most irreplaceable Trojans for 2018
Interestingly, Washington State is not projected to pose much of a problem even though the Cougars upset the Trojans last year in Pullman. USC will have the advantage being at home, while WSU has lost key players like quarterback Luke Falk and defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa. However, the matchup will come on a Friday night following two away games, context which could amp up the difficulty level.
S&P+ projections take a slightly different view of USC’s prospects in 2018.
The Trojans are expected to win 10 games, narrowly favored to beat Texas and even more narrowly predicted to lose to Stanford. As with FPI, Notre Dame stands as the most likely loss of the year.
Here’s a look at the S&P+ win probabilities:
UNLV — 92%@Stanford — 49%@Texas — 54%Washington State — 74%@Arizona — 59%Colorado — 89%@Utah — 55%Arizona State — 79%@Oregon State — 89%Cal — 81%@UCLA — 62%Notre Dame — 39%
S&P+ expects tighter games against Stanford and Texas, but also against Arizona and Utah. The four games are essentially toss ups.
There’s also less certainty of victory against the likes of Washington State, Colorado, Arizona State and UCLA.
However, the Cal game looks significantly less threatening at 81 percent win probability in S&P+ than 72 percent in FPI.
SEE MORE: Five reasons to be optimistic about 2018
Put the two projections together and USC would be meeting expectations with either nine or ten wins.
A ten-win regular season would give Helton double-digit wins in each of his first three seasons as USC’s head coach. That’s no easy feat. A nine-win regular season could still get him and the Trojans there with a bowl victory.
It’s also worth noting USC would be in prime position to win the Pac-12 South if results play out as projected.
However, despite the very realistic chance of repeating as conference champions, those projections don’t lend too much weight to a possible playoff berth.
The numbers say USC is likely to have a good season, but a great one may not be in the cards.