Phil Steele does it so we don’t have to but here’s a great preseason resource if you’re interested in where the world of college football pundits is picking your team – or USC’s team for Trojan fans.
In his blog this week, Steele posts the consensus of six ranking systems that list every FBS team from No. 1 through No. 128 as summer begins.
One caveat for the ESPN rankings here. It’s not any of the ones from their familiar football faces, it’s that of ESPN’s Stats & Info folks who use their Football Power Index (FPI), a mathematical formula.
The others are Lindy’s, Athlon, College Football News and those of two individuals – the Fremeau Efficiency Index of Brian Fremeau and the Bill Connelly S&P+ Ratings. Each of them has its own way of doing things except for this: five of the six have defending champ Ohio State No.1 the other has the Buckeyes No. 2.
No surprise there. Alabama at No. 2 – and a very strong No 2, is a bit of surprise but with that one No. 1 selection and three seconds and two thirds, the Tide is a solid second over No. 3 Oregon, with the Ducks picked anywhere from third through eighth, placing them just ahead of Baylor.
And by now, you’re wondering where the consensus has USC? The answer: Not nearly as high as most of the early picks had USC in th spring, including those of those ESPN TV pundits. The Trojans are No. 10 by consensus of the six raters, but maybe more surprising for USC fans who were there at the Coliseum last November, that puts them right behind Notre Dame in both a consensus, and puzzling, pick at No 9.
Nos. 5 through 8 show TCU, Georgia, Michigan State and LSU (LSU?) in that order.
Right behind USC is Auburn with UCLA No. 12. The rest of the Pac-12 has Arizona State a consensus No. 17, Stanford No. 21, Arizona No. 29, Utah No. 34, Cal No. 47, Washington No 49, Washington State 63, Oregon State 69 and Colorado No. 73.
We’ll note that three of the other Power Five conferences have a bottom team below Colorado so the Pac-12 can boast it’s less bad at the bottom right now than they are. Only the SEC, with Vanderbilt at No. 71, just beating out the Buffs, is better in the basement. The Big Ten has three bottom feeders – Indiana (No. 74), Rutgers (No. 76) and Purdue (No. 80). The ACC has Syracuse at No. 82 and Wake Forest at No. 85. The Big 12 has Iowa State at No. 83 and Kansas at No. 100.
Those rankings should be of interest to USC fans because the Trojans' opening opponent Arkansas State, at No. 78, is ranked above the bottom five Power Five teams. And the Red Wolves are a close second pick to win the Sun Belt Conference behind No 76 Georgia Southern.
Now of course, second-week opponent Idaho balances that out. The Vandals are a consensus 126, ahead of only Troy and Eastern Michigan.
And as much as this is a consensus, there are some weird picks, starting with the Notre Dame over USC one. Sure, the Irish have something like 19 starters back. But is that a good thing when you were getting beat the way they were the second half of the season? Just askin’ here.
*** Some notable numbers. Athlon likes USC best. The Trojans are No. 6 in Athlon. College Football News really likes UCLA, tabbing the Bruins at No. 4 although they have USC No. 6 so it might be an LA thing. Both Athlon and CFN have USC ahead of Oregon.
*** The rankings for USC have those two No. 6’s, a No. 11 (Lindy’s), two No 13’s (ESPN and Connelly) and a No. 15 (Fremeau). Not a clearcut sense here of where the Trojans belong.
*** USC is the top pick in the Pac-12 South and the choice to face off with Oregon a second time for the title after the regular season matchup in late November.
*** The balance of the consensus Top 25: 13 Florida State, 14 Ole Miss, 15 Clemson, 16 Oklahoma, 17 Arizona State, 18 Arkansas, 19 Georgia Tech, 20 Tennessee, 21 Stanford, 22 Texas A&M, 23 Wisconsin, 24 Missouri and 25 Boise State.
We rank the USC schedule, all 12 games, from worst to first in degree of difficulty and the Trojans' chances of winning. See how this plays out.
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