USC football receives disappointing win total prediction from ESPN's FPI

Lincoln Riley, USC Football, USC Trojans
Lincoln Riley, USC Football, USC Trojans / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

With a new head coach pushing USC football in a completely different direction now in place at the Coliseum, there is very little clarity on just how good SC will be in 2022. It's unclear how fast Lincoln Riley can turn this program around, as they are coming off of a brutal 4-8 season.

While my predictions have SC at 9-3, which is a five game improvement over what they were last year, I know that there are some fans who expect more from this squad in 2022 than just that.

If any fans objected to my projections, however, I'd suggest taking a look at ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) projections for USC next year before coming for mine. That's where the disrespect really is in the media. They have SC winning just eight games this upcoming season.

USC football will be winning more than eight games in 2022.

The biggest issue with ESPN's FPI giving USC football just eight wins in 2022 is looking into what some of their conference competition is receiving from the service. How USC is in the same category of Arizona State, who is falling apart from top to bottom as a program is insane.

How USC is behind UCLA despite the Bruins extending a failed Bruin head coach in Chip Kelly is beyond anyone. Arizona State is dealing with an NCAA investigation that is finding extensive cheating on the recruiting trail that also includes breaking numerous COVID-19 protocols in the process.

They've seen a max exodus in transfers away from their program, and they just brought in the No. 103 recruiting class in the nation. Not a lot of good going on after they mortgaged their future for a 2021 that was extremely mediocre. As for UCLA, they did the same, and finished with the same amount of wins in 2021.

The eight-win Bruins from 2021 do return with continuity heading into 2022, unlike ASU, who has had countless assistant coaches and both coordinators either get fired for the cheating, get fired for poor performance, or resign from their positions due to the turmoil the program is dealing with.

But while their continuity is nice, it's not particularly continuity that has had any sort of success. Kelly has been abysmal as a head coach at both the pro and college level since he left Oregon. Last year was supposed to be UCLA's year, right?

Well, they ended up finishing with just eight wins for their seventh straight season finishing outside the top 25. Again, this was in a year where they had built up as much returning talent as they had in the Kelly era and were supposedly ready to strike in a year where the favorites in the south (USC) justifiably tanked after week 2 so they could make sure they fired their mediocre head coach and hire an elite one in Riley.

I have UCLA beating SC this year, but not because they are a better team. I made it clear in my predictions that SC will have the better year, but to make a long story short, will suffer an upset at some point in the year and I see the Bruins as a team that can match up better against USC than most opponents on the schedule.

UCLA will not be winning as many games as SC, though. In fairness to ESPN's FPI, they likely see UCLA's CUPCAKE schedule and automatically give them a higher floor. After all, their non-conference schedule is a joke: Bowling Green (Home), Alabama State (Home), South Alabama (Home).

But it goes to show how low UCLA's standards are. There's a reason they had to schedule these cupcakes. This is the same program that once went three years before they won a non-conference game when Kelly signed on to coach this squad. They had to schedule the lowly Hawaii to find a way to finally win their first non-conference game last year.

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Teams with standards that low never outperform the great SC program when they have a great head coach. Now, they do have an elite head coach. All these ridiculous projections are is bulletin board material for that coach and his players.