USC Football: Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Trojans' Final 5 Games
While USC catches its breath after Saturday's 19-3 victory over Utah, interim head coach Ed Orgeron and his staff will be crafting a game plan for Friday night's game at Oregon State.
To say beating the Beavers at Reser Stadium—USC's own personal chamber of horrors—won't be easy is stating the bloody obvious, but that is what the Cardinal and Gold have in front of them.
With five games to go in the regular season, the Trojans can now see the end of a tough 2013 campaign in the distance, and that vision is worth pondering for those who follow the men of Troy.
Can USC ride the Utah victory to a strong finish this year?
This slideshow will look at some of the scenarios that might face the Trojans as they finish this disappointing season.
So pull up a chair and let's see what might happen as USC winds down 2013.
As injuries continue to pile up, USC finds itself with a schedule that provides only two remaining games that might be chalked up as "sure wins."
Road trips to 1-7 Cal and against an improving 3-4 Colorado are those so-called "gimmes," but of course, this year, nothing is for sure.
Still, barring injuries, the Trojans should win those games, and if nothing else goes right, USC will finish 7-6.
In this scenario, the Trojans lose to Oregon State, Stanford and rival UCLA.
I know, this is hard for fans of the program to stomach, but it could be worse, as the next slide reveals.
USC can't possibly hope to beat the likes of Stanford without the return of some of its injured tight ends and some guy named Marqise Lee, among many others.
If the injuries continue to pile up, no matter how game the remaining Trojans are, they can't expect to beat the good teams remaining on their schedule.
In a worst-case scenario, USC loses the games that it is expected to, PLUS it loses another to either Colorado or Cal.
This will find the Trojans sporting a 6-7 record and a holiday season spent at home.
That would be nothing short of a nightmare, to be sure.
At 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-12 Conference, USC is technically still alive for the south title, but that isn't the second-best scenario for the Trojans.
Instead, in this situation, USC wins those two games against Colorado and Cal and then it pulls off the shocker against either UCLA or Stanford at home and winds up a very respectable (given the circumstances) 8-5 overall and eligible for a significant bowl game.
Though it is not optimal, it is possible for USC to make this a reality, although it will take some luck to achieve.
OK, if we are going to dream, then we are going to dream BIG.
The best-case scenario has USC welcoming back a variety of its injured players and catching absolute fire starting this Friday evening against Oregon State.
A big win in Corvallis is followed by a remarkable string of victories, which culminates with a beatdown of UCLA at home. This finds USC with an amazing 10-3 record and an extremely unlikely berth in the Pac-12 championship game.
There, in Eugene, USC...loses against the mighty Ducks.
Hey, even dreams have to be tempered with reality right?
For sports fans, it is always fun to play the "what if" game when speculating on the future outcomes of their favorite teams.
This is true of USC fans as well as they fantasize about the possible good fortune of the Cardinal and Gold.
Is it likely that the Trojans run the table and find themselves in the Pac-12 championship? No, but it is equally unlikely that they lose the rest of their games too.
Where the truth lies is probably somewhere in the middle, and USC will fall somewhere in those "second scenarios" at either 7-6 or 8-5.
It would be fitting that in a decidedly mediocre year, the Trojans end up with a record to match.