By Greg Katz – WeAreSC
The Obvious: With USC Trojans football training camp now just weeks away, the 2017 national college football publications have given their predictions. In our annual “Magazine Wars,” the O/NSO looks at some individual and consensus evaluations from four of the leading and respected magazines, which includes Phil Steele, Street and Smith, Athlon, and Lindy’s.
The Not So Obvious: The four major mags have the Trojans ranked nationally as follows: Lindy’s (No. 2), Street and Smith (No. 4), and Athlon and Phil Steele (No. 5).
The Obvious: As mentioned above, Lindy’s has the Trojans ranked No. 2 in the country behind Alabama, which is the consensus No. 1 of all four publications.
The Not So Obvious: Regarding the Trojans, Lindy’s writes, “We have been burned by this bet (USC) before, but we’re going all in in on USC to run the table and reach the College Football Playoff.”
The Obvious: As mentioned above, Street and Smith has pre-ranked the Trojans No. 4 in the nation.
The Not So Obvious: Regarding the Trojans 2017, Street and Smith writes, “No team but Clemson finished hotter in 2016. The Trojans won their last nine, including a last-second, 52-49 Rose Bowl win over Penn State. There was a massive talent exodus to the NFL, but QB Sam Darnold returns and another top recruiting class enters. Southern Cal must rebuild its offensive line and cut down on last year’s 20 turnovers. Deontay Burnett headlines a young receiving corps.”
The Obvious: Athlon has taken a more cautious approach by ranking their No. 5 Men of Troy.
The Not So Obvious: Athlon writes, “Sam Darnold (photo above) went from third string to L.A. king with his performance in 2016 and returns ready to make a Heisman run. He is without wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster, but he does have ground support from Ronald Jones. It might take the line a little while to coalesce, but the Trojan defense should be able to handle things until that happens. Linebacker Cameron Smith is a tackling machine, and Porter Gustin is part of an angry pass rush up front. After a long period away from the national elite, it looks like USC is back.”
The Obvious: Phil Steele agrees with Athlon that the Trojans start the season at No. 5.
The Not So Obvious: Steele writes, “USC Since 1979, USC has been ranked preseason Top Ten 21 times. Fifteen times they have finished lower than previous ranked and five times finished unranked. They have no bye weeks this year. Sam Darnold could be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft. The schedule is easier (No. 1 last year and No. 11 this year) as they avoid Washington out of the North and get most of the toughest foes at home. USC gets my call to win the Pac-12 this year, and they are a legitimate National Title contender.”
The Obvious: A magazine tradition is having preseason All-America teams.
The Not So Obvious: Phil Steele and Lindy’s have quarterback Sam Darnold as their first-team preseason All-All-American. Sam made Athlon’s second-team preseason All-America team. Darnold, however, did not make first or second team Street and Smith preseason All-America. No other Trojans made first-team status on the other publications.
The Obvious: Each magazine has predicted the Pac-12 Conference races in the North and South Division.
The Not So Obvious: As it pertains to the Trojans, all four mags predict the Trojans to win the Pac-12 South and for Washington to capture the Pac-12 North. It should be noted that only Athlon has Washington (No. 4) ranked above the Trojans.
The Obvious: Each magazine predicts the Trojans post-season bowl destination for 2017.
The Not So Obvious: Here are the predictions of the four various publications and where the Trojans will be after the regular season: Phil Steele (Jan. 1 vs Alabama in the Sugar Bowl – CFP semi-final), Street and Smith (Jan. 1 vs Alabama in the Sugar Bowl – CFP semi-final), Athlon (Dec. 30 vs LSU in the Fiesta Bowl), and Lindy’s (Jan. 1 vs Ohio State in the Rose Bowl – CFP semi-final – and Jan 8 in the CFP National Championship vs Alabama in Atlanta, Georgia).
The Obvious: And finally, for those that try conserve money and get more bang for the buck, here’s a breakdown of the magazine in terms of cost and pages.
The Not So Obvious: Phil Steele ($12.99/352 pgs.), Athlon ($9.99/192 pgs.), Lindy’s ($8.99/232 pgs.), and Street and Smith ($7.99/208 pgs.).