Preseason 2005: A Brief Look at USC
It is getting close to that time. It will be the magical time of year that college football hits its stride again. In a little over five months from now, the national champion will be crowned in Pasadena, California.
A lot has changed since the end of last season. The AP Poll pulled out of the BCS rankings, and ESPN took its name off of the Coaches Poll since they agreed to publish their rankings just after the last week of the season. The AP Poll was replaced in the BCS rankings by the Harris Poll, which will not come out until late September, and will be voted on by former players, coaches, and media members. How will this effect the system? Not one bit. The system still has the same flaws as before and will look exactly the same on paper as last year's formula did.
The biggest question heading into the season is whether or not USC can win another national title. If they win it this year, they would become the first team ever to win three consecutive AP Poll national titles. It is a touchy subject over whether or not they will have truly won three straight as LSU won the BCS and Coaches titles in 2003, while USC won the AP title. USC is popularly considered the "real" national champion from 2003, hence people talking about their possibility for a threepeat.
However, the Trojans have some question marks. The biggest is just how important was Norm Chow to the offense? The former offensive coordinator took a job with the NFL's Tennessee Titans this offseason, and his importance cannot be overstated. He will be missed. But with how experienced and how good the Trojans are, does it matter? Who will beat them? Arizona State? Oregon? Hawaii? Arkansas? California? UCLA? Notre Dame? There is no one on their schedule that should be less than a touchdown underdog to them. Of course, that means very little if they do not win their games.
Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush make up one of the best backfields in America. Combine that with the actual starting running back, LenDale White, and a solid but young receiving group, and this offense could be the most explosive in the country. It doesn't hurt things any that this defense is still among the nation's best, even though Maneul Wright's defection to the NFL severely hurts their depth at defensive line. This team is loaded at every position, and has to be considered the favorite and the preseason number one team in the country.
The number two spot is wildly unpredictable. Tennessee, Texas, LSU, Florida, Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan have all been listed as number two by different publications. Each team has very large expectations for the coming year. We'll dive into those teams later on in the week. Also, look for the biggest games of September, the most overlooked games of September, and my picks on the coming season. All that and more will be coming in the weeks ahead as we countdown to the beginning of the season.