The day is finally here for the USC Trojans. After months of speculation and hype surrounding this program, USC will get their season started against the Western Michigan Broncos. The last time we saw USC on the field, they were competing in a wild Rose Bowl against Penn State. USC emerged as the victors, going into the offseason with much more planned in the future. USC enters as a team slotted in the college football playoff.
A lot can change, and a lot will change between September and November, but USC does have the talent to get them there. Anything less than a Pac 12 Championship and appearance in the playoff will be what I consider a failure of a year. The Trojans should have playmakers on both sides of the ball to assist them in getting there.
For USC, it will begin at the quarterback position with Sam Darnold. Darnold is coming in with mammoth expectations. So big that odds makers have him the odds-on winner to take the Heisman. It won’t be that easy, especially with Lamar Jackson ready to explode on the college football scene again. Jackson captured the Heisman a year ago. In Darnold’s corner in 2017 is the simple fact that he has a much better team surrounding him than Jackson.
If USC wins out and plays up to their expectations, I find it hard to believe that Darnold won’t win the Heisman. There is a lot of weight on his shoulders, though, we’ll see if he is able to live up to them in 2017. NFL scouts are undoubtedly taking a look at what Darnold does this year as well.
Meanwhile, Western Michigan is going through a transition period, as they said goodbye to the man who got them on the national scene, P.J. Fleck. Fleck took the head coaching job in Minnesota, while Tim Lester takes over at Western Michigan. Lester hopes to follow in the same footsteps as Fleck, but he will have to do it with less talent than Fleck did, at least initially. Head below for our free Western Michigan vs. USC pick.
Western Michigan Broncos vs. USC Trojans Betting Odds:
Western Michigan +27.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Western Michigan vs. USC Pick:
USC will be able to get the job done in multiple facets of their game this season. Forget about Sam Darnold for a minute and look elsewhere on the USC roster. Running back Ronald Jones really didn’t live up to expectations in his sophomore campaign. However, I expect him to have a coming out party in 2017. The offensive line will be the question mark on the offense. Can they keep him upright? I think that’s going to be the difference between making the playoff or not. For the purposes of this game against Western Michigan, I feel the offensive line should look fine.
Western Michigan will have a quality secondary in 2017, but they lose a productive pass rusher in Keion Adams. In this game, the Broncos could have really needed him against USC up front. For the Broncos to have a chance in this game, they need to facilitate a pass rush and get to Darnold. USC is too strong at every other position on the field. The deciding factor in this game, though, is going to be the Western Michigan offense against the USC defense.
The Trojans’ offense may be good, but I think the defense has a case of being just as good. USC has six players returning, on a team that finished 3rd in the conference. The linebackers are going to be difficult to run the football on. Cameron Smith is a notable return for USC, who should be disrupting the Broncos’ offense all game long.
There was expected to be a quarterback battle between Tom Flacco and Jon Wassink, but Flacco transferred leaving Wassink the only option at quarterback. Gone is quarterback Zach Terrell and the ultra-dangerous wideout Corey Davis. No Davis is really going to hurt Western Michigan this season. Their receiving core is thin at the moment. A year after going to the Cotton Bowl against Wisconsin, Western Michigan should take a step back in 2017. I don’t think the Broncos have the horses in the stable to keep up with USC here. USC looks the part in Week 1, and dismantles Western by more than four touchdowns in Pasadena.
PICK: USC -27.5 (-110)