Lane Kiffin is a man who knows a thing or two about high expectations. Despite being a very popular national title pick, Kiffin’s USC Trojans posted an uninspiring 7-6 record in 2012, going just 5-4 in conference play. The embattled USC head coach must put his team’s stellar talent to better use during the coming season — or face the wrath of the faithful of Troy.
USC will pose a number of unknowns for the Arizona State Sun Devils when the two teams take the field on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Kiffin and Co. must replace their four-year starter at quarterback, Matt Barkley, as well as fill holes left by the departure of record-setting wide receiver Robert Woods, center Khaled Holmes and safety T.J. McDonald, among others.
Despite the usual promise on display at the Los Angeles Coliseum, USC failed to live up to its potential during last year’s campaign due to injuries, poor decision-making and, at times, lackluster play. Regardless, fortunes could change for the Trojans in 2013. USC gets UCLA, Arizona, Utah and Stanford at home while also playing pushovers Boston College, Hawaii, Washington State and Colorado. All in all, this is favorable slate for prognosticators.
USC’s most difficult tests (other than a steamy trip to Tempe in early fall to face ASU) may come late in the year with back-to-back road games at Oregon State and California. It’s likely the Trojans will be favored in both match-ups, but neither opponent will be a pushover. Plus, a critical upcoming home game with Stanford could tempt Kiffin’s squad to look ahead.
As expected, USC’s marquee matchup will be with Notre Dame. In 2012, this contest came at the end of the year with the stakes high for the Fighting Irish — and nothing to lose for the Trojans. It will be a different story for USC this season with the game being played in the middle of the year and on the road.