USC football schedule predictions and early game-by-game preview for 2016. Projecting how the Trojans will do this year.
The Trojans have a new head coach – sort of – and a team good enough to challenge for the Pac-12 title. Can Clay Helton get USC to the championship with this schedule? Check out the preseason predictions for every game.
Sept. 3 vs. Alabama (in Arlington, TX)
Alabama comes into the game in the top spot – or close to it depending on the poll you care about – but USC will have a major chip on its shoulder. This is a good enough Trojan team to hang around and keep things close, but the defensive front will wear down late in a hard-fought loss.
Preseason Prediction: Alabama 27, USC 24
Sept. 10 vs. Utah State
The Aggies might give the Trojans fits. It’s an early game, and USC has to be ready from the start against a feisty defense and potent offense with a good quarterback in Kent Myers. The Trojans will win and move on, but they won’t look good doing it – don’t be shocked.
Preseason Prediction: USC 27, Utah State 17
Sept. 17 at Stanford
The Trojan world will get into a twist after a 1-2 start and a rough performance against Utah State, but it’ll take a little while to get rolling. Stanford gets a week off to prepare, and while it’s too early for that to matter too much, it’ll come up with a special defensive day in a fantastic win.
Preseason Prediction: Stanford 27, USC 17
Sept. 23 at Utah
It’s a short week for both teams going into a nationally televised Friday night battle. USC is on the road for the second week in a row against a power team, while the Utes will be coming off a relatively light game against San Jose State. Will it be a 1-3 start? No, but it’ll be close – the Trojans will come through in an overtime thriller.
Preseason Prediction: USC 26, Utah 23 OT
Oct. 1 vs. Arizona State
Arizona State will be 4-0 coming into a game it’ll look to use as a major statement. Instead, it’ll be the best day yet from the USC defensive line against a good ASU ground attack, while the Trojan offense will be explosive enough in the third quarter to take command.
Preseason Prediction: USC 34, Arizona State 24
Oct. 8 vs. Colorado
Finally, a breather. It’ll take about a quarter to find the right rhythm, and then the Trojans will roar with a big scoring run to be able to coast in the second half. The Buffs will try to get back in the game, but they’ll make too many costly mistakes in key moments.
Preseason Prediction: USC 34, Colorado 13
Oct. 15 at Arizona
The Trojans will seem like everything is working just fine, and the world will seem like it’s ending for an Arizona team starting out 0-3 in Pac-12 play, but everything will flip around. The Wildcat attack will be outstanding with an efficient second half to pull off the must-win moment.
Preseason Prediction: Arizona 34, USC 27
Oct. 27 vs. California
It’s the worst of all possible worlds for Cal. The Bears get a short week going into the Friday night game, while USC gets a week off to revitalize its season. Both passing games will get going early on, and then the Trojans will pull away with more offensive balance and pop in the second half.
Preseason Prediction: USC 37, California 21
Nov. 5 vs. Oregon
Here’s where USC makes its grand statement. Oregon’s running game will be effective, but the Trojan athleticism will keep things in check in the second half. The three key takeaways will turn out to be the difference in a game of missed opportunities and plenty of dramatic moments. Get ready for something terrific.
Preseason Prediction: USC 31, Oregon 27
Nov. 12 at Washington
The Trojans will be coming off their best win of the year, and then it’ll all come crashing down against a Washington defense that’ll come up with a dominant effort. The Huskies will need the win in a huge way after losing four of their last five games, and they’ll play like it.
Preseason Prediction: Washington 38, USC 17
Nov. 19 at UCLA
Coming off a horrible performance in the loss to Washington – or more like a fantastic game from the Dawgs – USC will step up and produce one of its best games of the year to take the Pac-12 South title thanks to a great, great day from the defensive front. The pass rush will frustrate Josh Rosen just enough to keep the UCLA passing attack from doing anything consistently well.
Preseason Prediction: USC 28, UCLA 17
Nov. 26 vs. Notre Dame
The Trojans might have four losses, but they were off to the Pac-12 Championship a week later in Santa Clara. More importantly, they’ll have a shot at ruining Notre Dame’s College Football Playoff dream. For the second year in a row, the Irish will come up short with a loss in California. USC’s offense will click in all phases – it’ll look like the more talented and athletic team.
Preseason Prediction: USC 31, Notre Dame 20
2016 Prediction: 8-4
2016 Pac-12 Prediction: 6-3