Apparently, the Rose Bowl still carries some cachet. Or maybe it is the fact that their star quarterback appears to be the best player on the planet after his coming-out party in Pasadena.
Whatever it is, the USC Trojans have laid down the gauntlet and, perhaps unknowingly, poked the bear that is the Washington Husky football team.
The Trojans jumped the Huskies in the final AP Poll of the season, issued just after Clemson upset Alabama in the College Football Playoffs National Championship. While the Huskies were the talk of the Pac-12 most of the season, their one regular-season loss came at the hands of the Trojans. While it wasn’t enough to keep UW out of the College Football Playoffs, that loss and USC’s subsequent victory in a thriller over Penn State in the Rose Bowl were enough to give pollsters reason to move the Trojans over the Huskies.
Meaningless in the grand scheme of things, this poll does give a glimpse into minds of the very same pollsters that will be voting again in the 2017 preseason. It seems very likely that USC will be the prohibitive favorite to win the PAC next season. Pollsters are already impressed with USC’s overall talent and Sam Darnold has become something of a media darling.
The Trojans will have to overcome some key losses to their current roster. Starting receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers are both off to the NFL. Star OL Damien Mama has decided to declare and will join fellow studs E.J. Price, Zach Banner, and Chad Wheeler as USC offensive line starters not returning in 2017. In addition, key players such as DL Noah Jefferson, RB Justin Davis, NT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu and S Leon McQuay are all moving on. Any day now, we expect to hear the same of star CB Adoree’ Jackson.
Nevertheless, many expect USC to overcome their offensive line questions behind the star power of Darnold and a set of young offensive weapons like RB Ronald Jones, WR Steven Mitchell, TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe, and up-and-coming WR Tyler Vaughns. The defense will look different with Jackson, but will still have star LB Cameron Smith, pass-rusher Porter Gustin and stud CB Iman Marshall. It is a formidable roster stocked with future NFL talent.
USC and Washington were not the only Pac-12 teams showing up in the final rankings. Stanford (12), Colorado (17), and Utah (23) were other conference teams to show up in what turned out to be a somewhat disappointing overall year in the Pac-12.
Here is your final AP Poll.