The other preseason poll ranking which shows how much USC is being discounted

·2 min read

The Pittsburgh Panthers are No. 17 in the preseason edition of the Associated Press college football poll.

A lot of USC fans will immediately note the significance of that fact, but let’s be clear so that everyone knows what this means: It means USC is not highly respected.

USC came in at No. 14 in the poll, a mere three spots ahead of Pitt. That’s not a lot of daylight between the two teams.

Yet, USC is quarterbacked by Caleb Williams. Pittsburgh is quarterbacked by Kedon Slovis, who — through little fault of his own — has had a tough two-year period. He didn’t get quality coaching under Clay Helton at USC. He didn’t have full health, either. The hope is that at Pittsburgh, he will be fully healthy, in which case he should indeed be better than he was in either 2020 or 2021. Yet, Slovis’s outlook is uncertain. Caleb Williams is a star with a chance to attain superstardom this year at USC. His ceiling is extremely high, and he is a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender.

That’s point number one. USC has a big advantage at quarterback.

Second, Pitt roared to life last year under quarterback Kenny Pickett and offensive coordinator Mark Whipple. Both are gone. Pickett is in the NFL and Whipple is now at Nebraska under Scott Frost.

Third, and probably most important, is that Jordan Addison — a central engine of the 2021 Pitt offense who helped the Panthers win the ACC championship for the first time in school history — transferred to USC. Pitt didn’t just lose Addison; USC gained him.

With all of this happening, one might think USC should be 10 or 12 spots ahead of Pitt in the preseason polls, but no, it’s only three.

It’s pretty clear that poll voters think the transfer of Jordan Addison only slightly affects the comparison between USC and Pitt. Voters obviously think Pitt has a much better roster from top to bottom at all positions. This is an indirect but noticeable and forceful verdict of skepticism about the USC defense and the full roster Lincoln Riley has assembled.

It’s just another indication of how much national skepticism the Trojans face as they prepare for a highly-anticipated season of football.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire