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USC National Championship Game Odds
The 2019 season was one of the most difficult and tumultuous in recent USC Trojans history. From the very start it was a “one thing after another” type of campaign. Starting quarterback JT Daniels was hurt in the second quarter of the season opener and lost for the year. True freshman Kedon Slovis was thrust into action and showed remarkably well. Head coach Clay Helton was on the hot season because of a 2017 record of 5-7 and as a coach that has never been fully accepted by Trojans fans. Also making things difficult was one of the toughest schedules in the country. Following a 5-4 start the rumors on Helton’s firing were over the top. But USC rallied to win its last three regular season games which qualified them for the Holiday Bowl. After the regular season finale and 52-35 win over UCLA it was announced Helton would return. Sure, enough Iowa ran the Trojans off the field in a 49-24 Holiday Bowl blowout that was emblematic of USC’s program and Helton’s shaky status. USC finished 8-5 straight up and 6-6-1 against the spread. Helton hired offensive coordinator Graham Harrell to establish the Air Raid offense for 2019 and it was a success. USC finished fifth in the nation for passing but 113th for rushing. Defensively the Men of Troy ranked 83rd overall and 66th for points allowed.
2020 USC Trojans at a Glance
National Championship Odds: +5700
Clay Helton took over as interim coach in 2015 when Steve Sarkisian was fired and was subsequently hired full time due to his familiarity with the program and popularity with the players. Helton peaked in 2016 with a 10-3 record, Pac-12 Conference championship, and Rose Bowl win with a final national ranking of third. But after going 11-3 in 2017, Helton’s Trojans have gone 5-7 in 2018 and 8-5 last year. Because he was left twisting in the wind last season recruiting suffered badly. Fans were outraged that Helton was retained for 2020 but that is based in large part because no big-name coaches wanted the job. He now enters his fifth full season with no margin for error and with a seat on fire. Yet Helton did recruit well prior to last season leaving hopes that there is enough talent for a Pac-12 South Division title.
2020 USC Trojans Schedule
Week 1: Saturday, September 5, Alabama Crimson Tide (Arlington, TX)
Week 2: Saturday, September 12, New Mexico Lobos
Week 3: Saturday, September 19, at Stanford Cardinal
Week 4: Saturday, September 26, Arizona State Sun Devils
Week 5: Friday, October 2, at Utah Utes
Week 6: Saturday, October 10, California Golden Bears
Week 7: Saturday, October 17, at Arizona Wildcats
Week 8: Bye Week
Week 9: Saturday, October 31, Colorado Buffaloes
Week 10: Saturday, November 7, at Oregon Ducks
Week 11: Saturday, November 14, Washington Huskies
Week 12: Saturday, November 21, at UCLA Bruins
Week 13: Saturday, November 28, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2020 USC Trojans Regular Season Preview
The one bright spot of 2019 was the emergence of starting quarterback Kedon Slovis. When he took over in crisis as a true freshman the Trojans were written off for dead. Instead Slovis was the reason they were able to get into a bowl game. Best of all the offensive lineup is deep and with enough weapons to keep opposing defenses honest. Offense is the strength of USC.
Of great concern is how the Air Raid offense does not lead to good complimentary football. In the old “Student Body Right” days of ball control offense USC could eat up clock and keep its defense fresh. Last year the defense was on the field far more often and wore down. Also problematic is that the defense now practices against a finesse instead of power team.
New defensive coordinator Todd Orlando was hurt by the fact that COVID-19 shut down spring football. A strong defensive backfield leads the unit and Orlando will transition the unit to a three-man line. Drake Johnson was another impressive freshman last year that totaled 5.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.
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