USC Football - Trojans 2023 Season Preview, Predictions & Best Bets

Apr 15, 2023; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) throws a pass during the Spring Game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
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Sam Avellone


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Long-time suffering Browns fan born and raised in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area who now resides in SEC country. University of South Carolina alum. Sports handicapper for close to 10 years with a primary focus on NCAAB while enjoying NFL, PGA, NCAAF, NBA, and Soccer. For Sam Avellone media enquiries, please email
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Following their joint departure from Norman, Oklahoma, Coach Lincoln Riley and quarterback Caleb Williams made an instant impact in their first season in southern California. The Trojans had one of the best offenses in the nation, improving from 4 wins to 11 and appeared in the Pac-12 Championship. With their impending move to the Big Ten in 2024, they will have one final season to avenge their loss in the conference championship and take the title themselves. 

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USC Trojans 2023 College Football Season Odds

Odds provided by FanDuel Sportsbook

USC National Championship Odds

The Trojans are currently +1600 to be crowned national champions. They are 1 of 7 teams with odds less than +2000. 

USC Trojans Pac-12 Championship Odds

USC is a +200 favorite to win the conference in its last season before moving to the Big Ten.

USC Trojans Odds to Reach the College Football Playoff

USC has the 5th lowest odds to make the playoff at +250.

USC Trojans 2022 Season Recap

According to BCFToys, the Trojans were the most efficient offense in the country when adjusting for opponents. They were the top team in drive efficiency, points per drive and touchdown rate, and scored the fifth most points per game against FBS opponents with 41.4.  On top of its efficiency, USC was extremely fortunate in the turnover department. The Trojans were first nationally in turnover rate, giveaways per game, and turnover margin per game. They lost just 2 fumbles throughout the whole season and Williams threw just 5 interceptions to go along with 4,537 passing yards and 42 touchdowns. He was also extremely effective with his legs, rushing for 382 yards and 10 touchdowns. Williams’ success was made possible by excellent production from an offensive line that ranked 1st in opportunity rate, 2nd in standard down line yards, and 4th in average line yards according to FootballOutsiders, and the running backs took advantage of it too. Travis Dye accumulated 1,086 total yards and 9 touchdowns in 10 games and Austin Jones added 972 total yards and 6 touchdowns. The wide receiver group was highly productive as well, led by Jordan Addion’s 875 yards and 8 touchdowns, Tahj Washington’s 785 yards and 6 touchdowns, Mario Williams’ 631 yards and 5 touchdowns, and Brenden Rice’s 611 yards and 4 touchdowns. 

USC’s defensive efficiency was not near the same level as its offensive, despite leading college football in turnover margin. The Trojans recorded 29 takeaways, 2.0 per game, yet allowed 29.2 points and 423.9 yards per game against FBS opponents – both outside the top 80 nationally. They finished 106th in opponent-adjusted defensive efficiency, 111th in points per drive allowed, 115th in opposing drive efficiency, and 119th in touchdown rate.  USC was unable to stop the run or win the line of scrimmage often, ranking outside the top 100 in average line yards, opportunity rate, and stuff rate. However, the Trojans were able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks by recording 2.9 sacks per game and a top 35 sack rate. 

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USC Trojans 2023 College Football Season Outlook

Big things are expected from the Trojans again in 2023. Williams returns for what is likely his final season of college football before entering the NFL Draft as the presumed favorite to be the top pick. He has a chance to be the second player ever to win the Heisman twice, the other being Ohio State running back Archie Griffin in the 1970’s, as well as an opportunity to avenge USC’s loss to Utah in the Pac-12 title game last year. 

There will be some new faces around Williams in 2023. The offensive line projects to have 2 returning starters switching positions, one from right tackle to left tackle and one from guard to center, as well as 3 transfers from Wyoming, Florida, and Washington State. Addison and Dye moved on to the NFL, so the Trojans will have to replace their team-leading receiving and rushing production. Arizona transfer Dorian Singer figures to start alongside returning receivers Rice and Williams, and a talented group of freshmen including 1 five-star wide receiver, 1 five-star tight end, and 2 four-star wide receivers will push for playing time as well. South Carolina transfer running back MarShawn Lloyd is rumored to have the edge over Jones as the starting tailback, but both will be utilized heavily with true sophomore Raleek Brown in the mix as a complementary back. 

Coach Riley hit the transfer portal hard in an effort to repair and improve last year’s defensive performance. As many as 7 transfers are in the mix to be starters on USC’s stop unit, headlined by Bear Alexander (Georgia), Mason Cobb (Oklahoma State), Anthony Lucas (Texas A&M), and Christian Roland-Wallace (Arizona). The Trojans will have to replace Tuli Tuipulotu’s 22 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks, but they return their 3 leading tacklers in Max Williams, Shane Lee, and Eric Gentry. Safety Calen Bullock returns as a starter in the secondary, and Bryson Shaw is back as well after 50 tackles last season. For USC to be in the national title conversation, a significant defensive improvement is going to be required in 2023 – especially in a conference consisting of multiple high-scoring offenses. 

The Trojans start the season with 3 straight home games in which they will likely be significant favorites. They host San Jose State in Week 0, Nevada in Week 1, and open conference play against Stanford in Week 2. USC faces back-to-back road games at Arizona State and Colorado following a Week 3 bye, then hosts Arizona in Week 6. The schedule’s difficulty increases in the weeks following, as the Trojans travel to Notre Dame and then host Utah in consecutive weeks. Following a trip to Cal, the Trojans then host Washington before traveling to Oregon – both of whom figure to compete for the conference championship along with USC. Finally, the Trojans cap off the season with a Week 11 home game against cross-town rival UCLA before a rare Week 12 bye due to their Week 0 matchup.

Best Bet: USC Trojans +0.5 regular season wins vs Alabama (-140)

Odds available at Caesars Sportsbook at the time of publishing

If you read my SEC preview, you know I projected Alabama under 10.5 wins. While I expect the Trojans to have a highly productive offense again, the shuffling of pieces on the offensive line is a concern, as well as the upside of the defense. The Trojans can ease their way into the season with a favorable first half schedule. However, the final half of the schedule is much more difficult, and games at Notre Dame, against Utah, against Washington, at Oregon, and against UCLA are all but guaranteed wins based on my evaluation. I believe USC will have similar struggles as Alabama against other top conference opponents while incorporating new pieces on both sides of the ball. However, USC appears to have the higher upside with a proven quarterback at the helm. Both teams figure to have a floor of 9 wins with a ceiling of 12, so I will jump on the opportunity of USC getting a half win on this line. 

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