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2016 Pac-12 prediction countdown #2 USC: Trojans get back to Pac-12 Championship Game

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NCAA Football: Southern California Spring Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The long torture of summer sports is almost over, but we still have a little ways to go. To get things ready, I went over every single game on the Pac-12 schedule in 2016 and predicted records for each team.

I'm going to countdown how I think the teams ultimately stack up in the final regular season standings with snapshots of each team.

#12 was Oregon State

#11 was Colorado

#10 was Cal

#9 was Arizona

#8 was Utah

#7 was Arizona State

#6 was Washington State

#5 was Washington

#4 was UCLA

#3 was Oregon

#2 is...USC

Prediction: 10-3 (8-1) first in South

Bowl: Alamo Bowl vs. TCU

Wins: Utah State, at Utah, Arizona State, Colorado, at Arizona, Cal, Oregon, at Washington, at UCLA, Notre Dame

Losses: Alabama, at Stanford, Stanford (Pac-12 Championship Game)

The Trojans are loaded with talent, have a lot of experience, and are poised to make a serious run at the Pac-12 title, but their coach is a big questions mark. So what else is new? I think the Trojans are very shaky, but I just can’t bet against their talent this year in a Pac-12 that lakes elite teams.

I think the Trojans start a little shaky in their early, tough as nails games, but get their momentum going and make it to the Pac-12 Championship Game again.

Non-Conference: The Trojans play the toughest non-conference schedule in the country. They have to play the nation’s top team in Alabama in Texas and I doubt they win that and then finish the season at home against a Top 10 Notre Dame team. I think they can beat the Irish and win a very tough “softest” game against Utah State as well to go 2-1 in non-conference play.

In-Conference: The Trojans get no favors in having to play at Stanford two weeks after their Alabama game and I think they get tripped up by the Cardinal again on the road. Following that up immediately with a game at Utah is brutal, but I think that’s where they start to put it together.

October really lightens up for the Trojans as they get Arizona, Arizona State, and Cal at home with Colorado on the road and a bye week.

The Trojans face a murderer’s row in November, but I am foolishly picking them to run that crazy table. They will grab wins at home against Oregon, then at Washington and at UCLA before finishing off with a win over Notre Dame in The Coliseum.

The Trojans will earn a rematch with Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but run out of gas and just miss out on the Rose Bowl.

How Will This Feel In December?

Losing a second-straight Pac-12 Championship Game and a third game to Stanford in 12 months will sting, but I think the feeling will be overall excitement for USC, especially considering their November run and second-straight win over UCLA. The Trojans will have 10 regular season wins and will be heading into the best bowl game they have played in quite a while with a team capable of doing big things in 2017. Obviously fans would love a national championship or Rose Bowl, but this is close and shows that the Trojans will be a contender under Clay Helton.Losing a second-straight Pac-12 Championship Game and a third game to Stanford in a 12 months will sting, but I think the feeling will be overall excitement for USC, especially considering their November run and second-straight win over UCLA. The Trojans will have 10 regular season wins and will be heading into the best bowl game they have played in quite a while with a team capable of doing big things in 2017. Obviously fans would love a national championship or Rose Bowl, but this is close and shows that the Trojans will be a contender under Clay Helton.