USC blows past expectations

LOS ANGELES -- Remember how things looked in late August?

USC was still a year or two away from being relevant again. It was too weak and inexperienced along the offensive line. It could be strong at defensive line if Armond Armstead returned. Linebackers were bad last season and small this one. And Matt Barkley would have to stop forcing the ball and committing turnovers.

Maybe USC would go 8-4 and finish second in the Pac-12 South. But there's no way it could touch Oregon or Stanford, and likely would drop at least two more among tough road games at Arizona State, Notre Dame and California, or home against Washington or Utah.