Southern Cal began the season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll. The Trojans had some flaws – defensive line depth, primarily – but were coming off a big year and returned an all-star cast.
USC was 10-2 last season and capped the year with a 38-35 win at Oregon and a 50-0 rout of UCLA. Matt Barkley was back at quarterback, and the Trojans seemed primed to thrive in 2012.
But SC is 6-2 after a 39-36 loss at Arizona last week. Coupled with a 21-14 loss at Stanford in September, the Trojans are out of the national title picture.
And Saturday they host fourth-ranked Oregon. The Ducks look even better than a year ago, when they were 12-2 and beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
The Trojans are suffering from the scholarship limitations of NCAA probation. They're not as good as once believed. But with Barkley and receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, USC has a puncher's chance. Lane Kiffin could have his team ready. Let's go with the Trojans in the upset.