USC or Texas: Will Either Team Turn Their Season Around?

Through two weeks of the college football season, USC and Texas might be the nation’s biggest disappointments.

The Longhorns were dominated by BYU last Saturday, allowing the Cougars to rush for 550 yards in a 40-21 defeat. As a result of the poor showing in Provo, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was fired, and former Syracuse coach Greg Robinson will call the plays this Saturday against Ole Miss.

USC’s defense is one of the best in the Pac-12, but the offense is a disaster. The Trojans recorded only 54 passing yards against Washington State and had two costly turnovers.

It’s only Week 2, so there’s plenty of time to turn things around. However, Mack Brown and Lane Kiffin are running out of time. And considering both teams face tough opponents in Week 3, it may get worse before it gets better.

USC or Texas: Will Either Team Turn Their Season Around?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Even though both USC and Texas are coming off bad showings in Week 2 losses, there’s still plenty of time for a rebound. It’s only Week 3 after all. And I do find it odd that both programs are experiencing problems with a side of the ball that’s traditionally been a strength. I give Texas a slight edge over USC to have a chance to salvage its season. The offense was the Longhorns’ biggest question mark going into the season, but this unit is averaging 7.4 yards per play, and quarterback David Ash is off to a good start (62.9 completion percentage and 594 yards). Texas’ schedule isn’t going to get any easier with Ole Miss and Kansas State visiting Austin the next two weeks, but the rest of the Big 12 is still wide open. And Oklahoma State – the frontrunner for the conference title – has to visit Texas on Nov. 16. The late-season matchup should give Mack Brown and Greg Robinson plenty of time to fix a few of the issues on defense. I wouldn’t totally sell USC at this point, especially with one of the Pac-12’s best defenses. However, the quarterback play may not get much better.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Both teams have loads of talent in the starting 22 and both teams could make quick turnarounds and make the postseason. That said, I lean towards Texas for a variety of reasons. First, the Longhorns roster is dramatically deeper and Texas appears to have a functioning offense, two things USC lacks in a big way. Second, a road loss to a very good and well-coached BYU is much easier to swallow than an atrocious home loss to a Washington State team that didn't score an offensive touchdown. Third, the Big 12 is a significantly more wide open and therefore easier league to win than a conference with Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State, UCLA and Washington. Finally, Mack Brown is much more of a proven commodity than Lane Kiffin as Brown's resume is substantially more impressive than Kiffin. All signs point to Texas bouncing back and still contending while the Men of Troy look doomed in 2013.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Can I say neither? Both seem fairly doomed. For Texas, this is two years of dreadful run defense. Maybe a change will help, but one coach isn’t the cause of a 550-yard outburst. And now the offense is dealing with injuries. USC’s quarterback situation is a mess. What has to happen for freshman Max Browne to get a chance? After deciding to redshirt Browne, does USC even want to go down that road? I don’t see either of the situations at USC or Texas getting a quick fix unless something drastic happens. If the bulk of the Big 12 is evenly matched or better than Texas right now, and if USC can’t beat Washington State at home despite allowing no defensive touchdowns, what hope do either have to finish the season with seven or eight wins?

Nathan Rush
Texas. The Big 12 remains wide open. Oklahoma State has a black cloud hanging over the program, which could derail a promising Pokes team. Oklahoma has quarterback issues and "Big Game Bob" Stoops' nickname has turned from deferential to sarcastic. A Red River Rivalry win — which would be the first for UT since 2009 — would turn the Horns' season around, at least as far as Burnt Orange Nation and Texas Exes are concerned. But even that might not be enough. After the OU game, Texas' shaky defense has to face TCU, West Virginia, O-State, Texas Tech and Baylor. The lone cupcake down the stretch is Kansas, a team the Horns struggled to beat 21–17 last season.

Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler)
I’d say neither, but if forced to pick one, give me the Texas Longhorns. While I don’t agree with Mack Brown’s decision to let go of Manny Diaz, I do trust the longtime Texas coach over the underwhelming Kiffin. At least the Texas offense will put some points on the board and keep things competitive. Texas does have five games left against ranked teams to the Trojans three, but the quality of coaching and instability at quarterback leads me to believe that USC is more likely to continue its losing ways. 

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