ESPN.com Insider KC Joyner thinks folks are over-hyping USC at the expense of Oregon, which he seems to view as the Pac-12 favorite. Or at least co-favorite.
But he doesn't just assert. He supports his position with seven thoughtful reasons.
His main points:
Oregon's offensive losses are not as great as generally thought.
The USC pass offense has consistency issues.
USC's defense has similar consistency issues.
USC has a young shutdown cornerback, but so does Oregon.
USC took a bigger offseason hit to its pass rush than did Oregon.
Oregon's defense is better at forcing opposing offenses into mistakes.
Oregon's schedule strength is very similar to USC's.
You'll have to read the article to learn how he supports these points, but I think USC's status as Pac-12 favorite and national title contender hangs on four issues.
Who replaces Matt Kalil at left tackle?
The Trojans have questions on the defensive line.
Can the Trojans overcome a longstanding tendancy to have at least one game a season when they just don't show up?
The defensive questions are legit, but keep in mind the Trojans' young linebacker are fast and talented, and the secondary has a chance to be the best in the Pac-12.
Still, I think you can reduce it to this: If USC stays healthy on offense, it will be able to outscore just about anyone, and that will overcome defensive questions.
Will it be enough to overcome Oregon on Nov. 3 in the Coliseum? My hunch today is yes. But a hunch on February 24 is worthless, particularly when we don't yet know what sort of production the Ducks will get out of their new quarterback.