USC football will begin the 2018 season sitting in the middle of the preseason AP poll, ranking 15th as questions remain over the Trojans’ level for the coming year.
The preseason AP poll was released on Monday morning with USC football ranking a safe No. 15 nationally.
That’s precisely where the coaches poll slotted the Trojans and more or less where Clay Helton’s squad has been settled in the vast majority of offseason rankings from the “way-too early” variety of the spring to the more proper preseason type of August.
The college football world seems to be in agreement then: USC is likely to be good in 2018. But few are willing to go out on the limb of expecting the Sam Darnold-less Trojans to crack the Top 10.
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That’s not entirely unfair as USC will be breaking in a first-time starter at quarterback while losing last year’s leading receiver, Deontay Burnett, and leading rusher, Ronald Jones II.
Still, the Trojans do boast a senior-laden defense and increasingly deep defensive front which could carry the team while a running back corps led by Stephen Carr keeps the offense moving forward. There may be skepticism about Top 10 status, but it’s within reach, especially if USC navigates the opening month of the season without any major hiccups.
September will certainly test USC’s resolve. In Week 2, the Trojans will travel to face No. 13 Stanford. Then they’ll matchup with No. 22 Texas in Austin. The month will finish with a critical Pac-12 South test against Arizona, who is unranked, but receiving votes.
October will hold another tough road trip to Utah, who also received votes in the AP poll. The big battle of November will involve No. 12 Notre Dame.
The good news on the schedule is the Trojans won’t be seeing two of the Pac-12’s ranked squads unless they meet in the conference title game. Washington ranks No. 6 while Oregon just made the poll at No. 24.
Alabama commanded the top spot in the preseason, garnering 42 first place votes to outpace No. 2 Clemson, who picked up 18 first place votes.