The USC Trojans are preparing for the 2012 season, and expectations are extremely high.
After finishing the 2011 season at a level matched by few teams, the Men of Troy will look to come out of the upcoming season with nothing less than a BCS National Championship. Along with it, multiple players will make their own cases for gaining individual awards.
As we get closer and closer, few things are certain, and other things are still in question.
However, predictions will be made, and these are five bold predictions for what the Trojans could do in the 2012 season.
The outcome of the season should be determined mostly by this game.
The Oregon Ducks and the USC Trojans will come into this game both having gone through a rather light schedule up to this point. Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but this could be a matchup seen twice during this season—once on November 3 and the other potentially for the Pac-12 Championship.
During their matchup last season, the game was decided by just three points when the Ducks missed a last-second field goal.
While neither of these teams will look past previous opponents in anticipation of this game, both teams will know in the back of their minds they will have to come into this one undefeated.
We know that the Trojans had two 1,000-yard receivers last year in sophomore Robert Woods and freshman Marqise Lee, but as the season went on, Woods was dealing with some injuries.
He's been resting all offseason and should be 100 percent by the time the fall comes around. If Woods is healthy, he has got to be a contender for the Biletnikoff Award.
While what Lee did as a freshman was remarkable, Woods is still the top target and has caught 176 passes for 2,084 yards and 21 touchdowns in just two seasons (111 catches last season—a Pac-12 record).
A healthy Woods means a happy Matt Barkley.
For a unit that lost three key components to the National Football League, the Trojans' defensive line has the potential to be special.
Having Devon Kennard back is a positive, and adding Wes Horton to the full-time starting lineup can be huge. Horton has shown flashes at times of being a dangerous edge rusher, and if he reaches his potential, opposing offensive lines will have a lot to worry about.
The worries come on the inside with the lack of experience at the defensive tackle position. George Uko, while having potential star talent, doesn't have the experience you would like, and the spot next to him is still uncertain.
However, J.R. Tavai, Antwaun Woods and incoming freshman Leonard Williams—who can play both end and tackle—can provide some great play if they are not afraid of the bright lights.
Look for Woods to break out.
While it will be extremely difficult to stand out over players like T.J. McDonald and Nickell Robey, Dion Bailey has a chance to be a special player.
The redshirt sophomore finished his 2011 campaign with 81 total tackles and made some key plays at crucial times for the Trojans.
As part of a linebacker corps with two other sophomores, Bailey stands out because of his speed for the position. The former safety provides excellent ability, and this could be a big year for him.
His success will also be determined by his teammates, however, both in front of him and behind him.
This is the biggest prediction of them all because the Trojans' season will require quarterback Matt Barkley to be at the top of his game.
He could cement his spot in the long line of Trojans' quarterback greats and finish his legacy the way everyone in Southern California was hoping for.
Despite suffering from the NCAA sanctions imposed on them, Barkley led the Trojans to a great record in 2011 and announced his intention to return for his senior season to complete some "unfinished business."
If the Trojans are to be successful and win a title, it will be behind Barkley's arm. As of right now, the odds of both of these predictions coming true seem to be high.