Why USC is a BCS title contender

Trojans could be fueled by an easier schedule, better depth than last season

Updated: July 25, 2013, 9:55 AM ET
By Phil Steele | ESPN Insider

Silas Redd Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesPenn State transfer Silas Redd rushed for 905 yards in his first season at USC.

The USC Trojans were the No. 1 team in the country at the start of last season. But not only did they not win the national title, they also went on to become the first preseason No. 1 team to finish the season unranked. As a result, their bandwagon, which was overcrowded in August 2012, is now almost empty. I will gladly stay on the Trojans' bandwagon for this upcoming season, however, because of many factors: an easier schedule, a deeper roster and the fact that expectations are much lower.

The biggest concern for the Trojans is at the quarterback spot. Last year, Matt Barkley came in as the front-runner for the Heisman, but he did not have the type of season everyone expected. Max Wittek played in eight games and started the last two with Barkley hurt, but he struggled big time in the bowl game. This year, he will be challenged by two talented underclassmen in Cody Kessler and true freshman Max Browne, who was in for the spring and was arguably the best pro-style high school quarterback in the country last year. No matter who ends up being the starter, he will be surrounded by some of the best skill-position talent in the country, and I don't think the numbers will drop too much from 2012.


To read Phil Steele's full article on why USC is a dark-horse BCS title contender, sign up for Insider today.

Phil Steele

ESPN Insider