Things could not have gone much worse for USC in 2012. The Trojans were a preseason favorite to win the BCS title, and everything appeared to be lined up for them. Things don't always go as we predict, though, and USC slumped to a 7-6 record and it looked like large portions of the team just quit. A lot of talent returns in 2013, but quarterback Matt Barkley does not. Can head coach Lane Kiffin get the best out of this team and bring along a new starting quarterback at the same time? Let's see how their schedule breaks down to see just how likely that is.
2013 USC schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
The Trojans will have a couple weeks to get their feet under them and recover from last season's disappointment. They start the season with a trip to Hawaii before three straight home games against Washington State, Boston College and Utah State, so USC should probably be 4-0 coming into a big Pac-12 South game against Arizona State in Tempe. It should be noted that their opening weekend game at Hawaii gives the Trojans 13 games on their 2013 schedule, so that's something to watch for if things start fading down the stretch.
The month of October could be treacherous for USC, though. It hosts Arizona and Utah, and makes difficult road trips to Notre Dame and Oregon State. Strange things happen at night in Corvallis, and this Oregon State team is far more than just a plucky underdog looking to spring an upset. It will be strange to see the USC-Notre Dame game played midyear, since aside from UCLA, that's the game the Trojans' season has generally built up toward.
November shouldn't be as difficult across the board as October, but the danger may be greater since USC has to face Stanford and UCLA in the final three weeks of the season. Barring something unforeseen, the Cardinal should be favorites when they come down to the Colosseum, but the bigger game may be UCLA considering the likely Pac-12 South implications.
If the quarterback transition goes smoothly, the Trojans could return to double digit wins in 2013 and contend for the conference title. If not, they should still have enough of a talent advantage to scrape together another bowl appearance. Lane Kiffin isn't there to just go to bowl games, though, so a rebound year would be in his best interests.