With almost a third of the 2013 college football season in the books, USC finds itself sporting a disconcerting 3-1 record and with trouble on the horizon.
Having expected to be undefeated at this point in their schedule, the Trojans have struggled on offense, which has placed a heavy burden on what has been an incredible defensive effort by the men of Troy.
With a road trip to Tempe, Ariz., next to meet an angry Arizona State Sun Devils team that was just embarrassed by Stanford, head coach Lane Kiffin must find a way to turn his offensive half of a good team into a winner in 2013.
It won't be easy.
USC has left the easy part of their schedule in the rear-view mirror and now will confront a bevy of remaining teams that are sporting a collective 23-6 record this year.
Hell, even the teams that USC probably looked at as wins prior to the season, such as Utah and Arizona, are a combined 6-1 and probably not intimidated by what they have seen from the Trojans.
All of which begs a question—can USC win nine games this year?
The nine-win benchmark is not arbitrary. Many people, including myself, felt that nine games were the minimum number the Trojans had to win for Kiffin to keep his job.
Now, with the stark realization that his offense is woeful, what can Kiffin do to salvage this season and his job?
Needing a transformation on offense, can Kiffin somehow come up with a magic potion that cures a suspect offensive line and heals a fragile quarterback?
Unfortunately for the Trojans, that is not likely, at least not in time to offer hope in 2013.
A closer look at the remaining schedule offers the following:
|Likely Win:||Colorado (2-0)||California (1-2)|
|Possible Win:||Arizona (3-0)||Utah (3-1)||UCLA (3-0)|
|Unlikely Win||Arizona State (3-1)||Notre Dame (3-1)||Oregon State (3-1)||Stanford (3-0)|
As you can see, the worst possible scenario has USC going 5-8 and, if things go as most expect, the Trojans will finish at 8-5.
Of course, it is possible that USC can run the table, or at least come close to that, but do you think this team has the offense to beat Notre Dame, ASU and Oregon State on the road?
What about Stanford? Can USC beat the Cardinal under any circumstances, even at the Coliseum?
What we are left with is the possibility that this could go south in a hurry for the Trojans.
To reach the nine-win mark, USC will have to beat Utah and Arizona and a very good UCLA team. It will then have to win one of those "Unlikely win" games just to get to 9-4.
While it is possible, is it unlikely given USC's woes on offense.
Still, stranger things have happened so Trojans' fans can hope for a complete makeover on offense while praying that the defense remains stout.
But the sad fact is that, four games into the season, fans of the program will have keep their fingers crossed that their team can find its way in 2013 or else suffer another disappointing season.
This certainly wasn't what followers of USC had in mind when the 2013 college football season started.