Look out 'Bama and Ohio State, this Pac-12 power is back and looking championship-worthy

With Lincoln Riley at the helm and a bunch of impact transfers added to the roster, USC is an early national title favorite

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Lincoln Riley won four Big 12 titles during his tenure with Oklahoma before leaving for USC
Lincoln Riley won four Big 12 titles during his tenure with Oklahoma before leaving for USC
Photo: Getty Images

USC football is back.

Is that too premature?

The team somehow someway, seemingly out of nowhere, snatched Lincoln Riley from his throne in Norman, Oklahoma, and right into the bright lights of Los Angeles.

It wasn’t long before Riley was flipping recruits and landing top transfers in this year’s class, including two of the top three and three of the top nine.

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Caleb Williams, the former 5-star standout at Oklahoma under Riley, was the prized possession of the 2022 class. He took the job from Spencer Rattler last season, and led the Sooners to an Alamo Bowl victory over the Oregon Ducks. The dual-threat quarterback threw for 21 touchdowns and ran for another six in 11 games.

Jordan Addison, last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner as the best wide receiver in College Football, was the top non-quarterback to switch schools. He reeled in 100 catches for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, and chose the Trojans over the Texas Longhorns.

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Then there was 5-star cornerback Domani Jackson, who de-committed from the Trojans in early November amid the uncertainty surrounding their head coaching position. But, just about a month later, he announced he was coming back to LA, choosing the Trojans over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

These were the big names, but far from the only guys that switched to the Cardinal and Gold this offseason. Top transfers and recruits on both sides of the ball included running backs Raleek Brown and Travis Dye, wide receivers Brenden Rice and Mario Williams, and defensive backs Zion Branch, Fabian Ross, and Latrell McCutchin. The 20 (and counting) transfers that USC reeled in have made up the top class in all of college football, and set this team up for immediate and future dominance (even before their move to the Big Ten).

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It’s hard to predict how long it may take for all of USC’s new pieces to gel under their new leader. It could be a week. It could be a year. They may already be ready.

But one thing is certain.

In a short amount of time, USC has completely retooled its roster, and restored its relevance in the college football world — something it has lacked for the last four years.

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Bettors have taken notice as well.

Whatever the case, it’s safe to say: USC football is relevant again.

And by the way, the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship is set to be played on Jan. 9 at none other than SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

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Talk about a way to reintroduce yourself to the College Football world.