USC’s prime 10 rating is extra a product of schedule than capability

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No. 7 USC is overrated.

No. 7 USC is overrated.
Photograph: Getty Photos

The USC Trojans got here into this season with very excessive expectations, and that’s saying quite a bit contemplating their a historic program whose followers anticipate nothing wanting a Pac-12 title and a top-10 postseason end yearly. The additions of head coach Lincoln Riley and quarterback Caleb Williams had Southern California foaming on the mouth, anticipating a possible playoff look, which might be USC’s first ever and the Pac-12’s first since Washington in 2017.

The Trojans have gotten off to a scorching begin, going 6-0 to start the yr. Nonetheless, their opponents haven’t precisely been world-beaters. In actual fact, Utah would be the first ranked opponent they’ve performed this yr. Regardless of that, the Trojans nearly misplaced to Oregon State, the identical Oregon State that might barely deal with Fresno State on the street and promptly received stomped by Utah 42-16 per week after nearly beating USC.

The Trojans are proper to be scared. They had been shedding in that Oregon State recreation all the way in which up till the fourth quarter. The Beavers rank 54th within the nation in yards allowed per game and are permitting 27.2 factors per recreation this yr. USC racked up a grand whole of three factors via three quarters!

Now, it’s not honest to evaluate USC off of only one recreation. Williams accomplished solely 44.4 p.c of his passes that recreation, however he’s been finishing 64.5 p.c of his passes on the season. Clearly, the whole Trojan offense was simply in a funk that day. Effectively, Williams didn’t look too sharp final week at house in opposition to Washington State both. He accomplished 15-of-29 passes for 188 yards and two scores, however he was saved by an unbelievable second half defensive displaying from his teammates and 28 carries for Travis Dye. I perceive that Dye’s success enabled Williams to simply sit again and benefit from the experience, however when he was pressured to throw, he seemed lackluster, and that gained’t reduce it in opposition to Utah.

It’s been a development all season, AP voters’ hubris is blinding them from who the most effective groups really are. I’m not saying Utah deserves to be prime 10. Hell, they’ve misplaced two video games already, however each had been comparatively shut, each had been on the street, and each had been in opposition to Energy 5 faculties that aren’t ranked within the Top 20. USC has performed one faculty, Washington State, that has acquired AP votes. Up till just a few weeks in the past, Pitt was nonetheless ranked above Kansas regardless of having a worse document in opposition to worse opponents.

Very like Pitt, the Trojans haven’t earned the excellence that their top-10 rating would point out. They’ve cowered behind weak packages, hoping they might prepare for his or her matchup with the Utes. I don’t belief them. Utah is a greater crew. Up till per week in the past, they’d held each one in all their opponents underneath 30 (underneath 20 should you exclude Florida). They’ve scored 25 or extra factors in each recreation. Towards higher competitors, the Utes have the sting over USC in completion share, opponent completion share, dashing yards per recreation, opponent dashing yards per recreation, and are very shut behind in stats like yards per rush and whole yards per play.

Arguably USC’s greatest power defensively is their defensive position. The Trojans’ Tuli Tuipulotu is coming off a three-sack efficiency in opposition to Washington State. Nonetheless, Utah’s offensive line is at present permitting lower than a sack per recreation. Maybe Utah switch Carson Tabaracci may assist the Trojans expose Utah’s offense, however I’d be keen to guess his data of Utah’s system gained’t be a lot assist.

The Utes gained’t simply win this recreation. They are going to embarrass the Trojans’ offense. Williams solely has one interception on the yr. That modifications tonight. Utah will win this recreation handedly, and they’ll leapfrog the Trojans within the AP ballot.

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