We have cracked the top 15 and are getting towards the cream of the crop. Here is team #14 and the 2010 USC Trojans Football Preview from the college football handicappers at Maddux Sports.
No. 14 USC Trojans
2009 record: 9-4
2009 Bowl Game: 24-13 win over Boston College in Emerald Bowl
2009 ATS: 4-9
Returning starters: 10 (5 on offense, 5 on defense)
USC has to deal with the implications of the sanctions it received from the NCAA in the light of the Reggie Bush case. Among other sanctions, the team is losing scholarships and the eligibility to play in bowl games for a certain amount of time.
The school is appealing the original ruling, but right now it looks like the Trojans won’t be eligible for postseason play for two years and they will lose 30 scholarships. This could have a serious effect on their recruiting, but the 2010 team is set and ready to contend in the PAC-10 under new head coach Lane Kiffin.
Quarterback Matt Barkley is looking to build on his 2009 numbers. He did have 2,735 passing yards and threw for 15 touchdowns. However, his 59.9 percent completion percentage could use some improvement, and his 14 interceptions created problems for a usually high-flying offense.
The Trojans lose top rusher Joe McKnight, who ran for 1,054 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Senior Allen Bradford will lead the way at running back in 2009, and is hoping to add to his strong numbers from last season.
Bradford carried the ball 115 times for 692 yards and eight touchdowns. He will get help from fullback Stanley Havili, who ran for a 6.6 yard average last season and caught 22 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns.
The receiving corps loses Damian Williams and Anthony McCoy, but has the talent to help Barkley to a great season. Wide receivers Ronald Johnson and Brice Butler combined for five touchdowns and 670 yards in 2009.
The Trojans’ defense struggled at times in 2009, giving up 55 points to Stanford and 47 to Oregon. Lane Kiffin brought along his father Monte to take over as defensive coordinator. The inventor of the Tampa 2 defense will look to use his decades of experience to revamp the Trojans’ defensive unit.
The defensive line stays mostly intact, even though NT Christian Tupou will most likely miss the season after tearing his ACL in the Trojans’ spring game. The line has gained experience from last year and should be considered one of the best in the nation.
Linebacker Malcolm Smith was second on the team in tackles last season with 72. He had six tackles for a loss and picked off one pass. Chris Galippo had 70 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 6.5 tackles for a loss. The experienced linebacking unit should be stronger than last year.
The secondary doesn’t only lose safety Taylor Mays. The Trojans don’t have any starters returning in the defensive backfield, and the secondary is a big question mark. The defensive backs have only five career starts between them. This unit has to prove that it can defend the big plays to keep their opponents from scoring.
Senior Joe Houston will take over kicking duties from departed Jordan Congdon. Houston played in the season opener last year when the Trojans routed San Jose State 56-3. He didn’t attempt a field goal and made the one PAT he tried.
Punter Jacob Hartman averaged 39.8 yard per attempt and forced 19 fair catches. He pinned the ball within the opponents’ 20-yard-line nine times.
Damian Williams handled punt returns last season and will need to be replaced. CJ Gable and Ronald Johnson split kick return duties in 2009. Gable averaged 18.3 yards on 19 returns, while Johnson had 13 attempts and a 20.3 yard average.
Against the spread
The Trojans went 4-9 against the college football odds last season. They had a 3-9 record ATS as a favorite, 2-4 at home, and 0-5 on the road. They went 1-0 in neutral situations. USC wet 2-7 against the spread in conference matchups and 2-2 against teams from other conferences. The school is 68-59-1 ATS in the last ten years.
You can bet on it
Bet the Trojans at Washington St. on September 25. They have won seven straight games against the Cougars and outscored them by an average of 33 points. USC didn’t allow WSU past their own 45 yard line in the teams’ last meeting at Washington State.
Favor the fade
Fade the Trojans at Stanford on October 9. USC has allowed 111 points in the last three meetings with the Cardinal, and lost two of the last three. The Trojans lost 55-21 last year and the Cardinal look like a better team than in 2009.