3 Reasons Matt Barkley's Trojans Will Take Alabama's Crown Next Season
Alabama proved the doubters wrong and exacted revenge in a big way over LSU for the national championship, 21-0. The defense ranked first in the country in every major statistical category, and guys like A.J. McCarron proved themselves in a big way.
But when USC quarterback Matt Barkley opted to return to Los Angeles for his senior season rather than declaring for the NFL draft, the polls for next season just got a lot tighter.
Here are three reasons why the Trojans will be able to beat out the Tide and the rest of the SEC for a national championship next season.
Alabama Should Lose a Lot
Running back Trent Richardson has two daughters to take care of and is projected to go in at least the top 10, and he may have played his way into the top five. He will undoubtedly declare for the NFL draft, but that stalwart defense will likely lose a lot of players as well.
Nose tackle Josh Chapman, linebackers Jerrell Harris and Courtney Upshaw, cornerback DeQuan Menzie and safety Mark Barron will all graduate, and most of the remaining guys are projected to be drafted in the first three rounds. I think it’s fair to predict that Dont’a Hightower and Dre Kirkpatrick won’t be on the roster, and Robert Lester should take advantage of a weak safety class and declare as well.
If all of those players leave, Alabama would have eight total players returning for 2012. That simply won’t cut it for a national championship. Just ask Auburn.
USC Should Return a Lot
On the other side of the coin, the Trojans will be one of the most experienced teams in college football. Every skill player on offense returns, and the combo of Marqise Lee, Robert Woods and Matt Barkley could be the best in the country.
The problem for them on defense was in the secondary, but every defensive back returns and Monte Kiffin should continue to improve defending the spread. Losing left tackle Matt Kalil will hurt, but USC has been an absolute factory at churning out quality players at that position.
For a team that finished sixth in the AP Poll, that’s quite intimidating.
The Pac-12 has brought in some of the nation’s best coaches, like Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez, but it will take at least a year for them to have real success. Until then, the only real threat on USC’s schedule are two home games in November against Oregon and Notre Dame.
One possible trap game is October 13th at Washington or Stanford, but I won’t buy into either of those teams until they prove they can cover elite wide receivers. There are a total of three teams ranked in ESPN’s way too early 2012 Top 25 on the entire schedule, and the Irish could easily be out of the polls by the end of the season if they can’t hold onto the football.
Everything is looking USC’s way for next season.