USC Football: Trojans' Best and Worst-Case Bowl Game Scenarios
After two seasons of being banned from bowl participation, the USC Trojans are back in the college football spotlight and ready to contend for national championships. They have by far, one of the more talented teams in the country and will remain in the conversation for a possible BCS bowl.
But after three weeks, the Trojans have been a little shaky, playing a sub-par game against Syracuse and losing last week to Stanford. Still, USC is ranked 13th in the country in the AP Poll and has plenty of time to prove themselves to the rest of the voters.
Here are your early best and worst-case bowl scenarios for the USC Trojans in 2012.
Ultimate Worst: Missing a Bowl Game All Together
Is it possible? Sure, anything is possible. Is it likely? Of course not.
USC only has to win four games to be declared eligible for a bowl game this season. With a weak Pac-12 schedule that is starring at them in the face, we probably have a better chance of seeing FAU win a national title over USC falling short of a bowl game.
But with the injury process, lack of depth, and a handful of Pac-12 teams playing better than we had thought, there is no guarantee that USC reaches a bowl game just yet. This would by far be considered one of the worst choke jobs in sports if this were to happen.
Worst: Holiday Bowl
The Holiday Bowl is awarded to the third best team in the Pac-12, and with a conference loss already to Stanford, this is not out of the question just yet. The Trojans have some work that needs to be done if they would like to avoid a lousy bus ride to San Diego, CA.
Of course, the only way USC qualifies for this bowl game is if they continue to fall apart as a football team. It is going to take much more than one or two losses for the Trojans to be considered the No. 3 team in the conference, but with the lack of a running game and a shaky defense, it is still a possibility.
The Holiday Bowl is obviously better than missing a bowl game at all, but would still be considered a major disappointment for this club.
Best: BCS Rose Bowl
Despite the early loss to Stanford, USC should still be considered the favorite in the Pac-12 South, which would guarantee them a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. If the Trojans are able to win the big game, but are not considered a top two team, they would be an automatic lock for the BCS Rose Bowl.
USC is very familiar with this bowl game, as they have made 32 appearances and have won 24 of those matchups. In fact, four of the last five bowl games for this program have been in the Rose Bowl and the Trojans have won three of those contests.
No team should ever consider a Rose Bowl appearance a failure, as it is one of the major bowl games and includes a nice $22 million payout for each team.
Worst: Alamo Bowl
Although many Pac-12 teams have surprised us early on, the two favorites that will likely battle it out in the Pac-12 Championship Game are the Oregon Ducks and USC Trojans. The Alamo Bowl is awarded to the No. 2 team in the Pac-12, which means that USC would have to lose the title game and not be picked up as an at-large bid for a BCS bowl.
The Alamo Bowl provided us with great entertainment last year, as Washington and Baylor battled it out in a ridiculous shootout that included 123 total points.
With the Big 12 as loaded as it is this season, USC would likely get a solid matchup in this game, but this is a bowl game that would not make fans happy. A trip to San Antonio, TX can certainly wait if you are pulling for the Trojans this season.
Best: National Championship
Quarterback Matt Barkley put his NFL dreams off for another season for a chance at a BCS National Championship. Running back Silas Redd transferred from Penn State to USC because he believed this team was on the right track to winning the crown.
This is why players move out west, as the goal every season for the Trojans is to win the national championship.
Even with the early loss and drop in the rankings, USC fans should not begin panicking just yet. This is still a loaded football team on both sides of the ball and has arguably the best quarterback in the country leading the way.
Every team ahead of the Trojans has difficult games the rest of the way, and the schedule still includes enough marquee games for USC to make a statement. (Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, Notre Dame, possible Pac-12 title game)
A national championship is what the players and coaches have set out for, it is what the fans expected, and anything less would be considered a failure in 2012.