2011 College Football Preview: Matt Barkley and the No. 18 USC Trojans

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2011 College Football Preview: Matt Barkley and the No. 18 USC Trojans
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Over the last three seasons we have witnessed the fall of Troy.

Gone are the glory days ushered in by the likes of Reggie Bush and Pete Carroll—mostly thanks to Reggie Bush and Pete Carroll. Southern Cal is a shell of its former Pac10-dominating, national championship-winning self. 

The sanctions levied by the NCAA as a result of the Bush saga are partially to blame. But, the USC we grew accustomed to during Carroll's tenure could have crushed the NCAA's punishment. 

Vacation of all victories from 2004-05? "Who cares? We all know what happened."

Reduction of scholarships? "Have you seen who we recruit? Our 15 LOI's will trump your 25, anyway."

Disassociation with Reggie? "Sorry, Reg. But, once again, everyone knows what happened."

No postseason? "We are SC. Enough said."

At least that's the impression we were left with after nearly a decade of an unparalleled combination of dominance and defiance. Pete Carroll made you believe.

Lane Kiffin is not Pete Carroll. He has no track record of winning. He doesn't have much of a track record, at all—unless you're talking about his history of infuriating his former bosses and fans of his former teams. There's no way he can keep this ship afloat. The reality of Southern Cal's predicament is simple: They are doomed to trade places with Oregon for the foreseeable future ... right?

Maybe not.

Kiffin's 2011 recruiting class is ranked fifth by Scout.com and boasts 10 players from the ESPNU 150—including the nation's top wide receiver, George Farmer. Early on, his 2012 class ranks seventh on ESPN Insider, which lends evidence to the notion that, for whatever reason, Kiffin does have credibility with the 16-18-year-old demographic. 

While this does not pacify concerns regarding his lack of, you know, actual game victories, it does hint at the potential for a quick turnaround in Los Angeles. After all, the first step to winning in January is winning in February.

That pesky second step will be winning this fall. In what will likely be Matt Barkley's final season as a Trojan, Kiffin needs to capitalize on the capabilities of the quarterback he inherited. The schedule isn't necessarily easy, but it's not impossible either. Ten wins are in play.

Anything less than eight could signal trouble.

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