USC preview capsule
HEAD COACH: Lane Kiffin 18-7/two years at USC, 25-13/three years overall
2011 RECORD: 10-2, 7-2/1st in Pac-12 South
KEY PLAYERS: Senior QB Matt Barkley (39 TD passes in 2011, a conference record) replaces Andrew Luck as the league's top offensive player and the preseason Heisman Trophy favorite ... Junior Robert Woods and sophomore Marqise Lee combined for 26 touchdowns last year and are the best WR tandem in the country ... Senior S T.J. McDonald (six career INTs) is a leading contender for the Thorpe Award.
OUTLOOK: They're baaaaack, and they're eligible (for the postseason). While these Trojans lack the depth of the best teams from the Pete Carroll era, they are the overwhelming favorite in the South and possess more than enough high-end talent to compete for the national championship. Plus, their toughest test (Oregon, on Nov. 3) is at home.