Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9
USC entered the 2012 season surrounded by plenty of hype and expectations due to the fact that the sports media decided to latch onto QB Matt Barkley, who shocked many by returning for his senior year. But the Trojans turned out to actually be one of the biggest letdown stories of the season, as they went just 7-5 in the regular season after starting the year affixed all over every national magazine cover.
Coach Lane Kiffin and his star quarterback have both had to deal with most of the criticism for the team's shortcomings this year. But in their defense, it's not as if the Trojans have lost to a bunch of nobodies.
All five teams that beat USC in 2012 will be playing in the postseason, and three—Oregon, Notre Dame and Stanford—will be playing in BCS bowl games.
Obviously, next year, USC will not be the same team without Barkley, who has been a rather dependable four-year starter, even though he didn't live up almost unreal expectations this year. However, standout receiver Marqise Lee is the type of supremely gifted playmaker that can make any quarterback look good.
Plus, the USC defense will be welcoming back plenty of key starters such as linebackers Dion Bailey, Lamar Dawson and Hayes Pullard, CB Nickell Robey and defensive tackles Leonard Williams and George Uko.