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Football faces toughest schedule in FBS

first_imgFollowing their 8-6 campaign last season, the football team will look to improve upon that mark in 2016, but will have to do so against some stiff competition. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, USC will face the toughest schedule of all FBS teams this coming season, and it is not difficult to see why.The Trojans open the season with a neutral-site game against defending national champion Alabama, which many project to be the No. 1 team in the country. This matchup between the two blue-blood programs is one that fans haven’t seen since the teams last met in 1985, and represents an enormous opening challenge for head coach Clay Helton’s team.The non-conference slate is supplemented by home games against Utah State and Notre Dame, both of whom are highly competitive programs in their own right. This trio of matchups represents one of, if not, the toughest non-conference schedules in recent history, with Alabama and Notre Dame expected to compete for a spot in next season’s college football playoff.USC will also have to maneuver a loaded Pac-12 conference in addition to their non-conference slate. The gauntlet will begin in Palo Alto, which has seen two instant classics between the Trojans and the Cardinal in their last two matchups at Stanford. The other road games include trips to Utah, Arizona, Washington and UCLA. This group will represent a particularly arduous challenge for USC; the Trojans have lost at least one of their last two road matchups against each of these teams. While the Trojans hope to reverse their fortunes on the road, it won’t get any easier in the Coliseum.USC will face Arizona State, Colorado, Cal and Oregon at home to complete this season’s schedule. In compliance with Pac-12 rules, USC will not play Washington State or Oregon State this season as a part of the rotating bye schedule.Boasting the most difficult schedule in the country, USC highlights the trend in scheduling among Pac-12 teams. Eleven of the 12 teams rank in the top 50 nationally for strength of schedule — all except Arizona. Considering that 128 teams constitute the FBS, it is a remarkable statistic and highlights the willingness of Pac-12 teams to schedule difficult out-of-conference matchups. Among these marquee games include Texas at Cal, UCLA at Texas A&M and Stanford at Notre Dame. While USC may face the toughest schedule in the conference, the others aren’t far behind.Despite the difficult schedule USC faces this upcoming season, they are still considered contenders in the Pac-12 South by many analysts and experts. While playing the toughest schedule in the country will certainly challenge USC’s hopes for an undefeated season, it could be beneficial come time for the playoff committee to makes its selections.In its inaugural seasons, the playoff committee has rewarded teams who faced grueling schedules and the precedent implies that a loss would not devastate USC’s chances. While any dedicated USC fan knows to temper their preseason expectations, the 2016 squad offers a lot to be excited about as they take on the most difficult schedule in the nation.last_img

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