If USC can’t win the Pac-12 championship this season, the Trojans would dearly want to at least make a New Year’s Six bowl. If the Trojans can play in a featured New Year’s bowl in Year 1 under Lincoln Riley, that would be a significant achievement and a notable prize for the program.
The vast majority of pundits felt, going into the 2022 season, that USC would not reach the New Year’s Six and would not immediately regain the stature of the Pete Carroll years. Pete Carroll needed one season to get everything organized at USC. His first Trojan team in 2001 went 6-6 and lost to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl on Christmas Day. If Riley can make an NY6 bowl, that would be an indication of how fully he has restored the Trojans in one year. It’s an important goal.
Right now, bowl projections are mixed, but if you look at the various projections and notes below, you’ll see that USC has to beat UCLA to remain high enough in the rankings to get an NY6 ticket.
JERRY PALM, CBS SPORTS: ROSE BOWL
Michigan running back Blake Corum (2) rushes for a touchdown as Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell (31) defends during a NCAA Big Ten Conference college football game, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.
Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK
Jerry Palm still has the Trojans facing the Michigan Wolverines in the Rose Bowl.
KYLE BONAGURA, ESPN: HOLIDAY BOWL
Dec 27, 2016; San Diego , CA, USA; General overall view of the National Funding Holiday Bowl logo at midfield during the 2016 Holiday Bowl between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Washington State Cougars at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Oof. Bonagura has USC facing NC State in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. That wouldn’t be too encouraging for Lincoln Riley.
MARK SCHLABACH, ESPN: ALAMO BOWL
Oct 1, 2022; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Adrian Martinez (9) runs past running back Deuce Vaughn (22) for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Schlabach has the Trojans facing Adrian Martinez and the Kansas State Wildcats in the Alamo Bowl.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS: ROSE BOWL
Jan 1, 1973; Pasadena, CA, USA; FILE PHOTO; A fan holds up a USC Trojans and Ohio State Buckeyes flag pendants at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY NETWORK
Surprisingly, College Football News still has USC facing Michigan in the Rose Bowl — for now.
BRAD CRAWFORD, 247SPORTS: COTTON BOWL
Oct 1, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley applauds after a touchdown in the first half against the Arizona State Sun Devils at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Here we go with a new opponent: Crawford has the Trojans facing Tulane in the Cotton Bowl. That might be surprising, but here’s Crawford’s reasoning behind it:
Cincinnati will be the Group of Five’s highest-ranked team this week, but Tulane’s remaining schedule appears more favorable from the outside looking in. The Bearcats go to UCF next week, host East Carolina and take on the Green Wave at Nippert Stadium in the regular-season finale that will have New Year’s Six and conference title-game implications in the American Athletic. As for USC, this is the spot for the Trojans if they finish as the Pac-12’s runner-up inside the top 14.
OLIVER HODGKINSON, PRO FOOTBALL NETWORK: ALAMO BOWL
Oct 16, 2021; Austin, Texas, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy shakes hands with Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt before the game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Well, another Alamo Bowl projection — this time against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
JACK FOLLMAN, SUPERWEST SPORTS: COTTON BOWL
Sep 4, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats coach Luke Fickell stands with his team prior to the game against the Miami (Oh) Redhawks at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jack Follman has the Trojans facing Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl, and a New Year’s Six bowl in Lincoln Riley’s first season is a success.