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Is USC Football Overrated In Preseason Polls?

For years, the USC Trojans football team has placed high in preseason rankings, yet they have often been unable to live up to that preseason billing on the field. Now, the USC Trojans are perennially on “overrated” lists each preseason.

This year has been no different. In both USA Today’s poll and the Coaches poll, USC Football is ranked number 14 in the nation. Writers from USA Today, Fansided, and 247 Sports have come out to say that the USC Trojans have once again been overrated in the polls.

Are these opinions well-informed? Is USC Football overrated? Or are these just lazy opinions about a team that has underachieved in recent years?

The best way to figure that out is to do a quick analysis of the team and coaching, as well as the other teams around USC in the rankings.

Let’s start with the basic roster construction. In college football, you need some stars at key positions, surrounded by good depth that is ready to take over in the event of injuries.

With the recruiting that USC has been doing in recent years, this team has some depth and some stars. This team is particularly positioned to do well in the new era of football where passing is king.

The Trojans can expect a better, more confident version of quarterback Kedon Slovis in 2021 now that he is further removed from his elbow injury. Pair that with a deep wide receiver room headlined by Drake London, and the Trojans offense is set up for some fireworks. There are noteworthy question marks along the offensive line, but the talent is there for the unit to be good.

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Again, on the defensive side, the Trojans have the star power with NFL draftable talent in the secondary and pass-rushing units. USC has feared edge rushers Drake Jackson and Nick Figueroa with mega-recruit Korey Foreman likely to become more impactful as the season moves on. Pair that with a secondary headlined by Isaac Taylor-Stuart and Isaiah Pola-Mao, and offenses will have a hard time moving the ball down the field against the Trojans.

Of course, coaching is a critical factor in all of this, and the Trojans have a questionable one with Clay Helton. Helton has seemed to fail in getting his team fully prepared and motivated for big games, which is something that must change for a ranking better than the mid-teens.

Still, consistency at the offensive coordinator position with the talented, rising Graham Harrell should help the offense flourish. Todd Orlando should bring an aggressive approach on defense that has been lacking in recent years.

All of this indicates that USC is a very talented team with at least adequate coaching. No. 14 in the nation for a team expected to win the PAC-12 South and compete for the PAC-12 championship seems quite fair. But what about the teams around them?

Using just the Coaches Poll, USC is between No. 12 Oregon, No. 13 LSU, No. 15 Wisconsin, and No. 16 Miami.

This group of teams are all in relatively the same boat. They have talent and have put it together some years, but they have not fully done so recently. Oregon needed a miracle to make it to the PAC-12 title game (where they promptly dismantled a seemingly unmotivated Trojans squad), and Miami was the only other team that ended the 2020 season ranked.

The No. 14 ranking for the USC Trojans in the USA Today Poll and Coaches Poll is fair, and they are not overrated. The Trojans will absolutely need to fight hard to keep their ranking that high, but they have great talent and coordinators that are ready to do something with that talent. USC fans have plenty to be excited about in this coming season.

USC Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) passes to USC Trojans wide receiver Drake London (15) for a 32-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter; UCLA at USC. November 23, 2019, Los Angeles, CA. Photo Credit: Steve Cheng | Bruin Report | Creative Commons License

USC Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) passes to USC Trojans wide receiver Drake London (15) for a 32-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter; UCLA at USC. November 23, 2019, Los Angeles, CA. Photo Credit: Steve Cheng | Bruin Report | Creative Commons License

Tyler Gallagher

Author Tyler Gallagher

Hello, Trojan fans! I am hyped to be covering the USC Trojans football team for LAFB! I am now a two-time Trojan -- I graduated from USC in 2020 and now am a student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. I grew up in Armuchee, Georgia, but I always had some Trojan in me from my family, and the team always provided me with good football to keep me a fan. Fight on!

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