Make or break

With the perception of an early, cream-puff non-conference schedule and a regular season Pac-12 slate devoid of the Oregon Ducks and Washington Huskies, there is guarded optimism that the 2013 USC Trojans can make a significant comeback after last season's disastrous 7-6 season.

To support this hypothesis, the Trojans first four games are against Hawaii, Washington State, Boston College and Utah State, four teams that combined for a mediocre 19-20 record in 2012. That record is only balanced thanks to the surprising Aggies, who finished 11-2 and were rewarded by losing their head coach, Gary Anderson, to Wisconsin.

A 4-0 start is the opening expectation for the Trojans coming out of the gate before confronting three consecutive games that could propel the Trojans and their followers to great heights of optimism or into another 2012-like depression, which, of course, included that disastrous Hyundai Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech.

If the Trojans start off strong without a blemish, they then travel to Arizona State (Sept. 28), host Arizona (Oct. 10) and then hit the road again for that little evening donnybrook at Notre Dame (Oct. 19). The results of those three games may foreshadow the destiny of the Trojans and their beleaguered coach, Lane Kiffin.