Top 25 playoff teams: USC

Trojans have good high-end talent, but depth again could derail title hopes

Updated: May 31, 2014, 8:31 AM ET
By Brad Edwards | ESPN Insider

Nelson AgholorKirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsNelson Agholor should be one of the top receivers in the nation in 2014.

From May 27 to July 3, Insider's college football experts will preview the season for the 25 teams with the best chance of making the inaugural College Football Playoff, based on Brian Fremeau's post-spring projections. This is the entry for the USC Trojans.

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Fremeau's projection

Projected finish: 8-4 (6-3)
Chance to make playoff: 2 percent
Chance to win Pac-12: 10 percent
Toughest games: Sept. 6 at Stanford (23 percent win odds); Nov. 22 at UCLA (38 percent); Oct. 11 at Arizona (61 percent)

Why they'll make the playoff

1. There's a lot of talent here

NCAA scholarship sanctions may have limited the number of players USC has been able to sign in the past three years, but those restrictions didn't keep the Trojans from continuing to land four- and five-star talent. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor and defensive lineman Leonard Williams are among the best players in the nation at their respective positions. With them, USC should field a starting lineup that's better than most in college football (eight starters return on each side of the ball), and it will certainly be good enough to win any game on the 2014 schedule. Now, being good enough to win and actually winning are two different things, but having a chance to win each game is the first step for a team hoping to reach the four-team playoff.

• Analyzes college football and the CFB Playoff as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app