USC football was ranked just third in 247Sports' 'Pac-12 football power rankings' on Tuesday. Raymond Lucas Jr. slots the Trojans below both the Utah Utes and Oregon Ducks. While USC should be behind the Utes, they should not be behind the Ducks. The Ducks had a significantly worse offseason than SC.
They hired a head coach in Dan Lanning who's never been a head coach before, and only a coordinator for just three seasons. USC hired a head coach in Lincoln Riley who has finished top 10 in the country every single year he's been a head coach. USC finished No. 6 in the overall recruiting rankings for this past cycle (247Sports). Oregon finished 10(!) spots lower at No. 16.
USC acquired the most highly-anticipated transfer in college football history in No. 1 transfer portal player Caleb Williams to be the quarterback. Oregon brought in the so-far NCAA bust, Bo Nix, to be theirs. But, while USC is ranked too low in Lucas' ranking, he actually has a reasonable reason as to why he has them this low:
"The USC Trojans are loaded on the offensive side of the ball heading into the new season and could make an argument to reside at No. 1 due to the firepower mixed with the coaching ability of Lincoln Riley. But we'll wait until we actually see the team compete in an actual game before dubbing the Trojans the top-ranked team in the Pac-12. "- Raymond Lucas Jr., 247Sports
Lucas just wants to see USC football in a game before he puts them in one of the top couple spots.
And that's fair to want to provide other teams with the respect that one feels they deserve for now with the other team in USC football not having played a game yet with this new squad.
He likely should just go ahead and rank them in the top two, because they are one of the two best teams, but it's fine to want to make sure he respects the other top teams in the conference before he puts a completely new-look squad all the way up at two.
Besides, it's not like it's criminal to have USC behind what has a pretty talented roster in Oregon. Lucas acknowledged the type of potential SC has if all these new faces do indeed gel together well and gain quick and strong chemistry:
"It'll be interesting to see what kind of start USC gets off to with so many newcomers riddled throughout the locker room while gelling and learning how to respond to adversity as a unit. But talent speaks volumes and if USC is moving like a well-oiled machine then there isn’t much any team in the conference can do to stop it."- Raymond Lucas Jr., 247Sports
After bringing in two five-star transfers and five four-star transfers this offseason, and hiring a top five head coach in college football, this team certainly does have that high ceiling.
Lucas may have the Trojans a bit low in his rankings, but he by no means disrespects and dismisses how good this Trojans team can be. Give him a couple games and he'll hop right on board with what's brewing in Los Angeles.