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  • Writer's pictureHugo Traverso

2021 USC Football Predictions

The USC Trojans are entering their 5th full season under coach Clay Helton. The Trojans who under Clay Helton have gone 45-23, winning 1 of 3 PAC 12 Championship games, and have only won 2 bowls under Helton (2013 Vegas Bowl, 2017 Rose Bowl), losing 3 in very dissapointing ways. The Trojans' downfall under Helton has been poor coaching decissions and hiring choices, and also losing easy to win (for teams as high as they were ranked) games like late games against Arizona State, Cal, Washington State, and UCLA. The USC alumni was happy with Helton after 2016 and 2017, but in 2018, the relationship has turned sour. In 2018, under QB JT Daniels, Clay Helton got blown out by Stanford and Texas in back-to-back games. USC once again started their season 1-2 under Helton. It got worse, too. The Trojans recovered beating Washington State and Arizona before the bye, and Colorado after the bye but they dropped two games back-to-back against division rivals Arizona State and Utah. The Trojans beat Oregon State 38-21, to get their record to 5-4. The Trojans had 3 games: UCLA, Cal and Notre Dame, that people thought USC could win 1 of them to clinch a Vegas Bowl or Sun Bowl bid, but Helton failed. The Trojans went up 14-0 early against Cal, but due to horrible coaching from the Trojans, the Bears got a sweet victory on an awesome comeback. The Bears scored 15 unanswered to beat the Trojans. People still had hope for the Trojans to beat UCLA, but the Trojans messed up and lost the game. USC kept it close against Notre Dame, but couldn't win. This was USC's worst season since 2000's 5-7 record under Coach Paul Hackett who was replaced by legendary football coach Pete Carroll that offseason. The Trojans had dropped 5 of their last 6 to miss a bowl in 2018. Many called for Helton to be fired, but the school did nothing. With USC's football future in question, a lot of talent started entering the transfer portal or commiting to other schools, and it hasn't stopped. The Trojans running core has been demolished because of it. In 2019, Helton had mediocre season with tough losses against BYU, Washington, Notre Dame, and a blowout from Oregon. USC's problem of letting the enemy back into the games was a major problem, and Trojans fans saw another blowout at the Holiday Bowl that year, losing to Iowa, 49-24. In 2020, the Trojans were either let back into games by oponents, or were up by a lot and let opponents back into games, or both. Oregon defeated USC in the PAC 12 Championship, 31-24.

The Trojans have had the chance to get a CFP spot, but haven't been able to due to loses that should not happen, like home losses against Arizona State or Utah. The Trojans can't show in big games and they need to bring the program back to order. The CFP rankings don't only judge on who you beat, but by how much. Under Helton the Trojans only have 3 wins by 30+ and none by 40+. Under Sarkisian, Helton's predecessor, the Trojans opened the 2015 season (the year Hekton took over) with two 45+ wins. They beat Arkansas State by 49 (55-6) and Idaho by 50 (59-9). USC's largest win under Helton came against Utah State in 2016 when they beat them 45-7. USC has a generally easier schedule than usual this year and should be able to win games, but with Helton, nobody will ever know.


Team Score Record Ranking

v. San Jose State 24-31 0-1 21

v. Stanford 34-27 1-1 20

@ Washington State 23-20 2-1 19

v. Oregon State 35-17 3-1 19

@ Colorado 23-34 3-2 25

v. Utah 21-31 3-3 NR

@ Notre Dame 10-20 3-4 NR

v. Arizona 31-7 4-4 NR

@ Arizona State 31-35 5-4 NR

@ Cal 28-21 6-4 NR

v. UCLA 9-21 6-5 NR

v. BYU 34-17 7-5 NR

PAC 12 Championship: Colorado (8-4) v. #5 Oregon (12-0): Prediction: 27-7, Oregon Wins

Oregon finishes #3 overall, Colorado finishes unranked

USC faces Wake Forest (7-5) in Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Prediction: Wake Forest wins 31-20

USC Final Record: 7-6

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