After Colorado's contest with Arizona State, the schedule becomes infinitely harder. First up is USC, a road game against a national championship favorite with a Heisman candidate at quarterback. Even the positive, loyal fans will find a hard time coming up with ways the Buffs can win this game.
Last year's night game against the Trojans started well enough, but it was all downhill from that opening touchdown.
USC is finally elgible for postseason play and Matt Barkley passed on being a top 10 pick in last year's draft for a shot a Pac-12 and national title. Anything short of a national championship will be considered an unsuccessul season for the Trojans. Although Lane Kiffin is always making headlines, he is a good coach and his defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, has experience and knowledge that are hard to match at the college level.
Matt Barkley is the best quarterback in the Pac-12 and arguably the nation, but his options on offense are just as potent. In spring, it seemed USC's only weakness on offense was perhaps their lack of depth on the offensive line and no running backs. However, with the addition of All Big-Ten running back Silas Redd from Penn State, their offense shouldn't have any setbacks. The offensive line is looking for a replacement at left tackle with the departure of Matt Kalil, but the rest of the line should remain intact. At receiver, if you try and double All-American Robert Woods, Marqise Lee can cause just as many problems as fans of Oregon know all too well from last year's contest. Woods has had some ankle issues throughout camp, but it seems unlikely that he won't be ready for the regular season. Also, the tight ends can't be forgotten. Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble are athletic, young players that can wreak havoc over the middle. Barkley runs the show on offense and even though it will be difficult to duplicate his production from last year, another offseason of practicing with all his options can't hurt. If the Trojans can pull together a consistent rushing attack, the offense should be one of the best in the country.
The secondary is the biggest strength of the Trojan defense and it's led by ball hawking safety Tj McDonald. At corner, Nickell Robey has his starting job and the other spot is up for grabs, but Isaiah Wiley looks like the guy considering he was starting at the end of last year. The linebackers are all back from last year, with Dion Bailey, Lamar Dawson and Hayes Pullard. The defensive line is a different story. DeVante Wilson went down with an ACL tear and Devon Kennard is battling a pectoral injury. J.R. Tavai and George Uko fill the tackle spots on the line while Wes Horton and Morgan Breslin are securing the end positions. The group could change prior to the start of the season, but it should still be able to get a decent pass rush.
USC is all set to get to the national championship and a return to national relevance in a very big way. Lane Kiffin has been recruiting at an incredible pace and doesn't show signs of slowing down. It's hard to see them losing to anyone in the regular season besides Oregon, but upsets are ever-present in college football. This is a team that will be one of the best in the country if they stay healthy, but depth will be a major issue with any number of injuries. They have taken the identity of a team that wants revenge and that's not good news for Buffalo fans come October 20th. Let's just hope it's not a complete disaster.