USC football nearly made the College Football Playoff in 2022 and here’s a look at realistic expectations for the Trojans in 2023.
The 2022 season was a magical one for the USC football program. Caleb Williams won the Heisman Trophy and the Trojans made it to the Pac-12 title game in the first season under head coach Lincoln Riley.
However, the season ended in a rough fashion for USC football. The Trojans were blown out by Utah in the Pac-12 championship game, forcing them to finish 11-2 in the regular season and miss the playoff. Then, USC was denied a 12th win by Tulane as the Green Wave scored on the last play of the game to pull off an incredible comeback.
The season didn’t end the way USC football fans wanted it to, yet, when the Trojans were struggling to a four-win season in 2021, they would have gladly taken the 11-win season of a year ago, especially since it included wins over Notre Dame and UCLA.
What’s the expectation for USC football in 2023?
USC football lost some key players from last season led by Jordan Addison, who will be playing in the NFL season, but the biggest issue is the defense.
Williams won’t have any shortage of weapons to target with Zachariah Branch and Makai Lemon, two wideouts joining the team ranked in the top 43 overall according to the 247 sports composite rankings in 2023. Raleek Brown can also step into the running back job, plus USC football could be adding the No. 1 tight end in the 2023 class in Duce Robinson, who still hasn’t signed yet.
Five-star cornerback Domani Jackson is ready for a breakout season after not playing much as a sophomore. The Trojans also landed four four-star defenders via the transfer portal to help shore up a unit that struggled last season in the Pac-12.
In terms of the schedule, Notre Dame on the road is going to be the toughest game along with the trip to Oregon late in the season. Utah, the two-time defending Pac-12 champions will head to Los Angeles along with the battle against UCLA which is also at home.
USC football should be playing for the Pac-12 title next season and winning the Pac-12 title is the ceiling for USC. The floor to me is 10 wins and the potential is the playoff.
Anywhere between 10-12 wins is realistic. I don’t see an undefeated season but there could be a conference title and playoff berth, just like in 2022 if there was one more win.