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College Football Top 25: No. 4 University of Southern California

USC Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (14) avoids a sack by Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback John Reid (29) during the first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game, Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Doug Benc)
College Football Top 25: No. 4 University of Southern California

No. 4 – the USC Trojans come off the board at 4, after a 2016 campaign where they finished 10-3, including 9 wins in a row after Sam Darnold took over as the starter. USC started the season getting thumped 52-6 by Alabama, and losing 27-10 before Max Browne was out, and Darnold stepped in. in 2017, Sam Darnold is a front-runner for Heisman, and could lead the Trojans to a Pac-12 title and a playoff berth.

Darnold looked like a Heisman in the Rose Bowl, where Darnold threw for 453 yards and 5 touchdowns, including the game winner. Throughout the first week of camp, all eyes were on the sophomore as he launched interceptions early.

One player USC needs to step up will be cornerback Iman Marshall. Adoree’ Jackson was drafted 18th overall, and USC will miss his dominate defense on the outside. Marshall spent most of last season covering the opponent’s top receivers, and was a shut down corner for the Trojans. Jackson’s loss will be felt, but Marshall looks to be a top defensive force in 2017.

Another player on the Trojan defense poised to step up will be linebacker Cameron Smith. Smith will start 2017 as the defensive play caller, and will need to continue bringing the pop to opponents. He has 161 stops in 22 career starts, and is an NFL prospect for 2018.

The running back battle at USC is a hot one right now, especially after Stephen Carr looked at camp. Carr is the third rated running back in the 2017 class, and will look for reps immediately. Carr is behind a lot of experience, including Ronald Jones Jr., who ran for over 1000 yards and 12 touchdowns. The position is stacked, but Carr won’t be sitting out all year.

Some key games for USC in 2017:

Sep. 16 – USC vs Texas – Los Angeles, CA

Oct. 21- USC @ Notre Dame – South Bend, IN

Nov. 18 – USC vs. UCLA – Los Angeles, CA

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