Fall camps are underway and the regular season is here soon, which means getting an early jump on the 2006 NCAA football season. Knowing the teams now will save you time, and Matt Fargo is here to help you understand. what to expect next year. We go from worst to first in this 2006 college football preview.
#3 – USC Trojans 12-1 SU; 6-7 ATS
Fargo’s Take Any other team that loses the trio of Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White would be in for a year long rebuild. At USC, however, there is no longer reconstruction, but recharging. The Trojans are certainly the most vulnerable they have been in years, but talent abounds and another National Championship run is in their future. The young offense could be overshadowed by the defense that had a rare offseason in 2005. A resurgence of that defense will make the transition of key players on offense go smoothly. Leading the offense will be standout setup man John David Booty, who has just 42 collegiate pass attempts under his belt. The ground game is even murkier now that two projected starters are out for the season with injuries. The offensive line and the receiving body are the strengths of the Trojans. If there’s a year USC doesn’t win the Pac Ten, it’s that year. There is a lot of balance in that conference and several teams can beat the Trojans any day. But until that happens, the Trojans remain on top.
Returning starters on offense: 4 Booty beat out Mark Sanchez, another prep star, for the starting quarterback position and both have the ability to be as good as their predecessors Carson Palmer and Leinart. Obviously, it will take some time for him to get comfortable on offense and that’s where the running game comes in. Projected starter at running back Hershel Dennis and projected starter at fullback Brandon Hancock are gone for the season. Hancock’s injury means Ryan Powdrell, who was moved to running back, must return to running back. Junior Chauncey Washington is the possible starter now. The offensive line replaces three starters, but there’s solid depth throughout the two-depth chart. Wide receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith come together to form the best combo in the Pac Ten and will take some of the pressure off Booty because of his reliability. USC was the best in the country in total offense last season, but with the numerous losses, that will no doubt go down. Booty’s game decides how much.
Returning starters in defense – 6 After finishing third in scoring defense and sixth in total defense in 2004, the Trojans dropped to 35th and 48th respectively last season and head coach Pete Carroll hired Nick Holt from Idaho to take over. defensive coordinator position. Carroll was in charge of defense before and now with a dedicated coach, the unit should regain its dominance. Six starters are back on the defense that enters the season ranked number one in the Pac Ten thanks to superior defensive line and linebacker units. The Trojans have six players out of the seven forwards within the All-Pac Ten 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams which shows how much strength they have. The weakness, if you can call it that, is in the secondary, where three starters must be replaced. Don’t worry though, as three players are also on those All-Pac Ten lists led by cornerback Josh Pinkard. The Trojans allowed 41 and 42 points in two of their last three games last season after allowing no more than 28 in all of 2004. Expect more of those last in 2006.
Schedule With the Pac Ten growing stronger from top to bottom, the Trojans have more teams that can give them a challenge. The good news for them this season is that the three toughest teams, California, Arizona St. and Oregon, must come to the LA Coliseum this year. The toughest road game in the conference could be Arizona or UCLA in the season finale. The non-conference portion of the slate is tough, starting with a road game against a revenge-minded Arkansas followed by a home game against an improved Nebraska. The final non-conference game doesn’t come until late November, but it’s nice since Notre Dame pays a visit. Playing Oregon, California and Notre Dame in back-to-back weeks is a brutal stretch, but they’re all at home, where USC has won 27 straight games.
You can bet on… This is still the best-trained, most talent-rich team in the country and if the Trojans can get through some of the tough early games, they could be peaking by the end of the year when the meat of the league kicks in. schedule. Three of the first four games are away from home, which doesn’t help most young teams, but this isn’t your everyday young team. USC has been a dominant force in the Pac Ten under Carroll, going 27-13 ATS in conference play. It’s starting to trend the other way, though, as the Trojans are just 8-8 compared to the number they’ve been the past two years and with plenty of potential bumps in the road this year, a sub-conference record is possible. .500. Trojans will be overrated as they have been in each of the last two campaigns.