After nearly a decade of relative mediocrity Southern Cal is back as a national championship contender. Last year the Trojans overcame a slow start to finish in the Top 10 in the rankings, and this year they're a trendy pick on the college football betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. But being trendy doesn't necessarily mean they'll be a good bet.
2016 USC Record: 10-3 straight up, 8-5 against the spread
2017 regular-season wins over/under: 9.5 wins
2017 odds to win Pac-12: -110 (wager $110 to win $100)
2017 odds to win National Championship: +700 (wager $100 to win $700)
2016 USC Season in Review
The Trojans opened last year in miserable fashion, falling to Alabama 52-6. Later losses to Stanford and Utah dropped USC to 1-3. But a change at quarterback, choosing to go with freshman Sam Darnold, turned the whole season around, and USC finished with nine straight wins. Along the way the Trojans beat both Pac-12 division winners, Washington and Colorado, and rallied to defeat Penn State in the Rose Bowl on a field goal at the buzzer.
So including that Las Vegas Bowl victory back in 2013 USC is now 16-7 SU and 13-10 ATS in parts of three seasons under head coach Clay Helton. Still, the Trojans haven't won a conference title since 2008.
2017 USC Season Preview
Southern Cal gets back 12 starters for this season, three fewer than it had back for last season. Just five starters are back on offense, following the losses of last year's top two receivers and three along the offensive line. But Darnold is back, after completing 67 percent of his throws last year, with 31 touchdowns against nine interceptions, as is running back Ronald Jones, after running for 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns a season ago. And seven starters are back on defense, including five of the front seven.
The Trojans averaged 477 yards and 34 points per game last year, while allowing 367 yards and 24 points. They might not match those offensive figures this year, but they could improve upon those defensive numbers.
USC 2017 Schedule
Southern Cal plays 12 weeks in a row this season, without a bye. But it only has to play five road games, and should win at least four of them, the toughest one probably coming at Notre Dame on October 21.
The Trojans also get Stanford, Texas, Utah and UCLA all at the Coliseum, and they miss two of the top teams from the North Division, Washington and Oregon—at least until the conference championship game. USC could be favored for every game this season.
Betting USC in 2017
USC is back to national title contender status, but with that comes larger point spreads. The largest spread the Trojans faced last year as favorites was 17 points, but they might be favored by more than that five or six times this year. Bettors might be wise to be wary of USC at home, where it's likely they'll be giving a lot of points.
Check out the OddsShark Pac-12 Betting Preview for all the details on the 2017 college football season.