The USC Trojans may have been named the preseason's No. 1 college football team according to ESPN’s College Football Live, but if they want to keep their record pristine in 2012, they will have to avoid trap games. By that, I mean that USC will have to win against their underdog opponents and steer clear of any upsets.
Although most of the country will be tuned into the Trojans’ matchups against the likes of Oregon and Stanford, their supposed “shoo-in” victories will either make or break USC this season.
So, let’s take a look at those underdog opponents that the Trojans can’t underestimate in 2012.
The Trojans will travel to the Meadowlands to face off against the Syracuse Orange in their first road game of the 2012 season. In 2011, the Trojans beat the Orange 38-17 as Heisman-favorite quarterback Matt Barkley threw five touchdown passes, tying a school record.
This season, however, the long plane ride may have an effect on the Trojans. It’s common that the traveling team comes out flat and doesn’t meet expectations, so the Trojans will have to be mentally strong to pull out a win against Syracuse.
The Utah Utes have a way of slightly edging out their opponents and coming up with the win. This is evidenced by their 8-5 record last season.
Again, mental strength will be a key factor for the Trojans against the Utes, as a few small mistakes could easily cost them the game.
However, Utah does struggle to put up points on the board, so even if the Trojans’ offense isn't meeting expectations, they should come out with the win.
Both USC’s quarterback Matt Barkley and Washington’s quarterback Keith Price were recently named to the watch list for the Manning Award, which is given to the best quarterback in the country. So we can expect the Huskies to match the Trojans’ explosive offense.
Although the Trojans came out on top last year with a 40-17 victory over the Huskies, Washington has upset USC twice in the last three years.
Still, the Trojans have one thing that the Huskies don’t: a powerful defense. The Huskies were ranked 108th in scoring defense last year, so stars like Robert Woods and Marqise Lee should run wild and score big for the Trojans.