USC Football: Could the Trojans Really Hang with Teams Like Alabama or LSU?
Before the 2012 football season began, I originally thought that if any team could end the SEC's five-year national title streak, the USC Trojans would be just the team to do it. I guess I figured that if any quarterback could dissect the defenses of the SEC powerhouses, Matt Barkley would be just the guy for the job.
After just three games into the season, however, the Trojans have not looked as good as advertised at all, as they lost against Stanford for the fourth straight year and have allowed opponents to gain just about as many yards as they have been able to generate themselves.
Assuming this wasn't the case and the Trojans went undefeated in the regular season, would they actually be able to compete against powerhouse SEC teams like LSU or Alabama in the BCS national championship game?
Here are five reasons why they wouldn't be able to hang with the "big boys" of college football.
5. Their Non-Existent Running Game
So far this season, the Trojans have failed to establish a reliable running game. After three contests, the "Men of Troy" have only generated a measly 365 yards on the ground.
To put things into perspective, they are currently ranked 88th in the country in total rushing yards, with horrible teams like Eastern Michigan and Florida Atlantic gaining more yards on the ground than them.
There's no way that USC could hang with the likes of a team like Alabama without having a balanced offensive approach.
4. Inconsistencies on the Offensive Line
While the rushing game hasn't been much of a factor for the Trojans this season, the offensive line play hasn't helped that cause much, regardless of the formally highly touted recruits that the line consists of.
Aside from the rushing game, the offensive line has done a poor job of protecting Matt Barkley thus far. It seemed as if the Trojans gave up a sack on every offensive possession in the Stanford game.
Last year, USC was second in the nation in terms of sacks allowed. Things haven't looked much better for the Trojans in their first three games this season.
3. Lack of Playmakers on Defense
While USC is usually known for producing stud, NFL-ready defensive players, this hasn't been the case as of late. In just the first three games of the 2012 season, the Trojan defense is ranked 46th in the country, giving up 378.7 yards per game.
Though the elite SEC teams pride themselves on defense, I could see either LSU or Alabama controlling the line of scrimmage and running the football down the throat of the Trojan defense.
2. Matt Barkley vs. Ranked Opponents
Matt Barkley's career completion percentage (63.9 percent) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (90/36) is pretty impressive. I guess you would have to be pretty good if you're dubbed the starting QB of the USC Trojans.
However, against ranked opponents, the stud signal-caller has only completed 60.5 percent of his passes while having a 17/10 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
I don't think he would fare too well against the fierce defenses of either Alabama or LSU!
1. Lane Kiffin Is No Pete Caroll
Let's face it, when your team loses one of the best coaches in its program's history, you are bound to see a lack of team production under the new head coach. Especially when the coach you lost is a guy by the name of Pete Carroll.
Lane Kiffin undoubtedly had some very big shoes to fill, and I just don't think he has what it takes to fill them.