USC football debuted in the Coaches Poll at No. 15 in the country. It was a fair ranking--not too high or not too low. A sharp turnaround from a 4-8 team in 2021 is something everyone can get behind, and that's clearly what the coaches are predicting.
And last week, Brad Crawford of 247Sports predicted what the AP Poll will be saying about the Trojans. He believes the AP voters will see an even bigger turnaround for the Trojans this year. He believes SC will debut in the AP Top 25 Poll at No. 10 in the nation.
While many say preseason AP Polls are meaningless, they do impact how teams are perceived, which can of course impact further analysis and rankings in the future. If SC can debut at No. 10, they will prove that poll voters are willing to buy into this Trojans team despite a 4-8 record last season.
The media may have no choice but to respect USC football as they come into this season.
USC football made so many of the right moves this offseason, and Crawford sees some of these moves being too respectable for the media not to give them many flowers as the season approaches.
"You would be hard-pressed to find a program with more offseason steam than USC this summer and that'll be proven with the Trojans' preseason ranking inside the top 15 nationally, perhaps at No. 10 given the respect level media types have for Lincoln Riley and his offense," said Crawford.
Riley certainly does have ridiculous respect around the game. He was being recruited as a head coach to the NFL as early as when he was just 36 years old. He was being speculated at 35 years old. He's credited to running the best offensive scheme in America. Even his biggest critics don't dare criticize his offensive system. As for the roster overhaul, Crawford couldn't get enough of it.
"USC signed college football's most impressive transfer class, anchored by five-star quarterback Caleb Williams and Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison at receiver, and plugged holes defensively with several instant-playmaker types within the front seven," said Crawford.
What's he supposed to say? How can he NOT be excited about a team who added a top five (maybe four) coach in America, a top three QB in America, and the best wide receiver in America. And that's not even counting the Eric Gentry's and Shane Lee's of the world that SC added for the front seven. Crawford certainly didn't forget about them. That's two Freshman All-Americans right there.
SC is going to be hard for the AP Poll to resist as a top 10 team. While I would not have them that high (I have them at 17), many are buying into this team at that level and it's fair. It's a ridiculously good offense on paper, and a new look defense with a new defensive coordinator. All it takes is for SC to win many shootouts, and they can most certainly have a top 10 caliber season.