USC Season Win Total Prediction
Facing a daunting schedule for 2016, will the USC Trojans win at least eight games to cover the over for bettors?
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the over/under has been set at 7.5 for the number of wins the Trojans will rack up in the 2016 regular season. The over carries odds of -140, while the under has odds of +110.
USC is an intriguing team under Clay Helton, who takes over the head-coaching role on a full-time basis. He and his Trojans will be tested right out of the gates too, as USC takes on defending national champion Alabama in Dallas. Making matters more challenging is the fact that the Trojans will be breaking in junior quarterback Max Browne.
Helton said recently that he would name a starter between Browne and redshirt freshman Sam Darnold after 18 practices in August. Darnold performed well enough in spring to be in the mix, but from the outside looking in it would appear to be Browne's job to lose. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Browne was a five-star recruit out of high school in 2013 and was viewed as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in his class.
Fortunately for both Browne or Darnold, the Trojans have a talented and experienced crop of playmakers on offense. Led by senior Justin Davis (902 yards, 5.3 YPC) and sophomore Ronald Jones (987 yards, 6.5 average), the Trojans have one of the best 1-2 combinations at tailback in the country. JuJu Smith-Schuster (89 catches, 1,454 yards, 10 TDs) also returns, as does the entire offensive line, led by All-Pac-12 tackle Zach Banner. New offensive coordinator Tee Martin will have an opportunity to exploit defenses with the Trojans' no-huddle attack.
The defense, however, will be a different story. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast returns to USC where he last called plays for the unit in 2013. The biggest challenge he faces is a raw defensive line that returns no starters and lost NT Kenny Bigelow to a season-ending knee injury in spring practice. At least the secondary will be a strength thanks to Adoree' Jackson and sophomore Iman Marshall forming a solid pair at cornerback. Chris Hawkins and John Plattenburg also return at a safety position that includes depth Marvell Tell III and Leon McQuay III.
Even though they have to break in a new quarterback and there are questions along the defensive line, the Trojans won't be short on talent. The biggest question in relation to how many wins they'll produce in 2016 is their schedule, which is daunting to say the least.
USC opens with Alabama, faces Stanford, Utah, Arizona, Washington and UCLA on the road, and hosts Oregon and Notre Dame in what should be challenging games. Even still, Helton should at least lead this talented squad to eight wins at the very least, which would cover the over. It'll be close, but we're banking on USC getting on a roll at some point and pulling off an upset or two to push their season win total over the 7.5.
2016 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON WIN TOTAL PREDICTION: USC TROJANS OVER 7.5