All eyes will be in Arlington for the USC Trojans season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide, but this game will not define their season. Breaking in a new quarterback and a revamped coaching staff, USC is expected to lose to the defending national champs. An upset would be amazing and huge for their playoff chances, but this is by no means a dealbreaker.
It's the minefield that awaits them afterward that will define their season.
After USC likely handles Utah State at home, a vicious road trip to Stanford and Utah (on only six days rest no less) in consecutive weeks awaits them. Winnable games with Arizona State and Colorado are next on the docket, and then a potential trap awaits them in Tucson against the Wildcats.
But after getting through the bye week, USC spends four of their final five weeks in Los Angeles. Cal is a Thursday night game and they get two extra days to prepare for Oregon. Their big road game of the year is a harsh one to Husky Stadium, and then a date at the Rose Bowl with UCLA awaits for another possible Pac-12 South title matchup. And then the finale with Notre Dame. If USC gets through this season 10-2 or 11-1 and wins the Pac-12 title game, it's hard to not see them earning a playoff bid.
Here's the schedule:
Sept. 3 - vs. Alabama Crimson Tide at Arlington, Texas
Sept. 10 - Utah State Aggies
Sept. 17 - at Stanford Cardinal
Sept. 23 - at Utah Utes - Friday Night.
Oct. 1 - Arizona State Sun Devils
Oct. 8 - Colorado Buffaloes
Oct. 15 - at Arizona Wildcats
Oct. 27 - California Golden Bears - Thursday Night.
Nov. 5 - Oregon Ducks
Nov. 12 - at Washington Huskies
Nov. 19 - at UCLA Bruins
Nov. 26 - Notre Dame Fighting Irish