Games vs UCLA and Notre Dame have often defined USC’s season; they will in 2022

This has been an enjoyable season at USC. The big theme from national commentators and pundits throughout a very long offseason was that Lincoln Riley would simply not be able to turn around this program in one year.

Too many questions. Too much uncertainty. Too little depth. Not enough defense. Too much of Clay Helton’s damaging, lasting effects on the program. It was asking too much of Lincoln Riley to clean all of this up in one year.

The Trojans are 9-1 through 10 games. They have well-documented weaknesses and limitations — things we always knew the team would need to manage and overcome during the season — so no one should be surprised at how challenging a number of games have been. Yet, USC has stepped through nearly every landmine to give itself a shot at its many goals for the 2022 campaign.

To be honest, not having Travis Dye for UCLA and Notre Dame reduces USC’s margin for error. The idea that USC will win three tough games in three weeks is not likely to come to pass. USC going 12-1 feels more like fantasy than reality. It’s possible, but you wouldn’t want to bet the farm on it.

The main thing for USC as the UCLA and Notre Dame games arrive: Get a win in these next two weeks. It might not feel like a high aspiration, but the point is clear enough: Losing each of these two games would be a true disaster. Getting this far, and playing for all these high stakes, only to go 0-2 and finish 9-3 with an Alamo or Holiday or Las Vegas Bowl bid, would be miserable.

It’s crunch time for USC. Here’s more at The Voice of College Football:

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All the game keys, plot points, and elements of intrigue for USC vs UCLA

Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire