USC football has received some high praise this offseason, and rightfully so. Hiring a top five coach in football, and following that up by landing two five-star transfers and five four-star transfers, there's quite a lot of reasons for optimism within the program.
Preseason polls have ranked USC all the way up to No. 4 in the country. Well-known PFF analyst Trevor Sikkema, however, takes his USC hype even a step further than the rest of the analysts big on the Trojans this year:
Sikkema has USC at No. 3 in the country, and how sweet that is. If Lincoln Riley takes a 4-8 team to the No. 3 seed in the College Football Playoff in just one year, a serious conversation would need to be started about him moving up the coaching rankings. He would certainly move up from where he's at now, and that would be a consensus decision.
This USC football prediction will likely not come true, though, so it's wise to temper expectations.
While it would be amazing for USC football to be the No. 3 team in the country when their 13 games are up, it's not likely. All these roster upgrades are SIGNIFICANT upgrades, but they're a lot of new faces that will have to learn how to play with each other to the fullest extent very quickly.
Of course, there's tons of coaching turnover too. The only coach retained on this staff from last year was 2021 interim Head Coach Donte Williams. There's so much change, and growing pains very well may naturally come up. Why is Sikkema still so optimistic, though? Because Michigan State proved that really good teams can be built despite very quick and significant roster turnover.
In 2020, Michigan State was even worse than USC was last year. They finished 2-5, and worked the portal so hard that they went 11-2 and finished as the No. 9 team in football in 2021. USC was better than that 2-5 team, had an even better transfer class, and has an even better coach. Therefore, Sikkema's prediction isn't out of the realm of possibility.
Don't count on Sikkema being proven right, but understand that massive things like this still could be in store for USC in Year 1 with Riley at the helm. Nuance is key in these discussions, and while Sikkema is most likely wrong, it's not completely outlandish to make the prediction he did.