3. USC Trojans
Hiring Lincoln Riley was probably the smartest thing USC has done since Pete Carroll was still in town and his presence had an immediate positive impact in 2022.
After leading Oklahoma to loads of success over the years, Riley and his brilliant offensive mind — along with Caleb Williams — decided it was time for a change and he headed out west to start fresh in Los Angeles. While the move was risky, it paid off immediately.
USC went from a four-win team in the final year of Clay Helton to a serious playoff threat in 2022 and Williams went from backup to Spencer Rattler to begin the 2021 season to Heisman Trophy winner with the Trojans in his first season. All of the change seemed to do the head coach some good, and it feels like he’s just getting started.
Oregon and Washington were solid picks for this spot with Utah as a dark horse, but I think USC has the most “dynasty” potential with Riley being so young and USC having endless potential as a program.
We’re going to see a USC resurgence in the coming years and it’ll last a while.