- Matt Barkley turned down being a guaranteed Top 5 NFL draft choice in order to chase a national championship with the Trojans. Barkley is unquestionably the best quarterback in college football after throwing for 3,528 yards last year and completing 69.1% of his pass attempts with a 39-7 ratio.
- Barkley is also aided by the fact that he will be throwing to the most explosive set of wide receivers in college football this season. Indeed, Robert Woods, who suffered through a number of injuries last year, is projected to be a First Round draft choice next year and finished 2011 with 1,292 yards (11.6 yards per catch). Woods is flanked by Marqise Lee, who was a true freshman last year and compiled 1,143 yards on 15.7 yards per catch.
- USC had a very good offensive line last season as the Trojans allowed just eight sacks (1.8%), while paving the way for an impressive 5.0 yards per rush attempt. And, despite losing left tackle Matt Kalil to the NFL Draft (first round choice), the Trojans return eight of their top ten linemen including four starters with 60 career starts. USC enters the 2012-2013 campaign with one the best offensive lines in the country.
- From a defensive standpoint, USC takes the field with one of the best defensive lines and linebacking units in the nation. While the Trojans lose three starting defensive linemen, they return five of their top 8 and I expect another outstanding performance from this group. The defensive line is supported by one of the strongest linebacking units in college football as the Trojans welcome back three of their top six players, including two freshman who tied for the team’s #1 tackling award last season.
- I should also note that USC’s secondary is elite (Top 10 in country) with all nine of its top players returning for the 2012-2013 season. USC also added a Florida transfer who will further strengthen this outstanding unit.
With sixteen returning starters and the opportunity to play Oregon at home, the Trojans are my choice to win the National Championship this season. USC is one of the most well-balanced teams in college football, and head coach Lane Kiffin has his best opportunity to find the limelight with this group of talented players.