From May 27 to July 3, Insider's college football experts will preview the season for the 25 teams with the best chance of making the inaugural College Football Playoff, based on Brian Fremeau's post-spring projections. This is the entry for the USC Trojans.
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Projected finish: 8-4 (6-3)
Chance to make playoff: 2 percent
Chance to win Pac-12: 10 percent
Toughest games: Sept. 6 at Stanford (23 percent win odds); Nov. 22 at UCLA (38 percent); Oct. 11 at Arizona (61 percent)
Why they'll make the playoff
1. There's a lot of talent here
NCAA scholarship sanctions may have limited the number of players USC has been able to sign in the past three years, but those restrictions didn't keep the Trojans from continuing to land four- and five-star talent. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor and defensive lineman Leonard Williams are among the best players in the nation at their respective positions. With them, USC should field a starting lineup that's better than most in college football (eight starters return on each side of the ball), and it will certainly be good enough to win any game on the 2014 schedule. Now, being good enough to win and actually winning are two different things, but having a chance to win each game is the first step for a team hoping to reach the four-team playoff.