The USC Football team has been one of the most confusing NCAA teams to get a handle on this season, with their loss to Washington very indicative.
It has been hard to gauge how good the USC football team really is, thus making it difficult to predict when they will win and win they will lose.
Heading into the season, we knew that the team had a head coach that was on the hottest seat possible and was facing the chopping block. We also knew that we had a team that majorly underperformed last season in the program’s first season without Sam Darnold under center.
Since then, USC has lost both its starting and backup quarterback to injury but the team still had two ranked wins under their belt. They soundly defeated Stanford and shocked Utah for their third win of the season.
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Sandwiched between those two ranked wins was a road loss to BYU, who defeated the Trojans on an overtime field goal. That bumped USC out of the top-25 before they were again ranked after beating Utah.
All of those things led to the Week 5 matchup against Washington, which we knew was going to be telling for both sides. Washington, ranked 17th, was the first ranked opponent that USC had to play on road soil.
After such a great win over a team that was highly respected, a lot of Trojan fans believed that the USC football team could get the job done against Washington. They didn’t as they lost 28-14, showing us the true value of the team in the process.
This one loss paints the perfect picture of the USC football team and why some people may have jumped the gun on them being a marquee ranked team.
First of all, let’s look at how USC played. They ran the ball extremely well and actually played decent defense, allowing 373 total yards to their 375. However, them being on their third-string quarterback absolutely showed, as Matt Fink threw three interceptions, two of which led to interceptions with the last leading to the end of the game.
You can say all you want about how the team could have played with JT Daniels, but they don’t have JT Daniels. We cannot evaluate the team in that way if that is not the reality this season.
Mistakes riddled the team all game, which point directly at Helton. The team’s early success took some pressure of Helton, with this loss showing why there was pressure in the first place. There seems to be a noticeable ceiling that the Trojans have with Helton as the head coach and it is not as high as it should be.
Some fans may still hold onto USC being a ranked-caliber team as they are still 2-1 against ranked opponents, but we cannot just look at those wins in a vacuum.
USC did defeat Stanford, who was ranked at the time, pretty easily, we cannot deny that. However, Stanford has majorly fallen short of expectations and now looks like a team that should not even sniff the top-25. They are 2-3 on the season with two more blowout losses to ranked teams and a narrow three-point victory over Oregon State.
As for that Utah game, the Trojans definitely played good but they got some help as well. Just in the first half Utah had a field goal get blocked, turned it over on downs on fourth and one at midfield and fumbled at the two-yard line.
You could change three minor things and Utah could have at least scored 13 more points easily. They dominated the box score with more yards, first downs, fewer turnovers and way more possession time but left three scores off the board on their own mistakes.
Again, it was a good win for USC, but it was more of a game that the Utes lost rather than the Trojans winning.
This loss against Washington was more telling of the team than any of those wins and fans should remember that moving forward.
The USC football team is a team that is on its third-string quarterback, has a poor head coach and has benefitted from some luck.