Skip to main content

USC Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2022

Lincoln Riley, USC Trojans Football

Lincoln Riley's arrival at USC means all eyes will be on the Trojans this fall.

The USC Trojans were a joke in 2021. Clay Helton managed to keep his job during the 2020 pandemic-shortened season but his inability to ever grow as a coach resulted in his dismissal after just two games in '21. Donte Williams took over as an interim coach, but he proved he had absolutely no idea what he was doing as a head coach, and USC suffered accordingly. But it was absolutely all worth it because the end of the suffering came when USC formally announced it had poached Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma, along with several of the best Sooner players.

The Trojans now begin a new era of expectations with Riley at the helm. This fall is his first bite at the apple, and while it probably will go well enough, fans should exercise caution with regard to their expectations. The Trojans have plenty of offensive firepower, but they’re a little light on talent if they get hit with injuries, and the defense isn’t quite as loaded as the offense. It will be interesting to see how Riley manages this over a full season.

Related: USC Football 2022 Season Preview and Prediction

With Riley at the helm, can USC finally regain some of its former glory? Some of the experts at Athlon Sports pick every game on the Trojans' 2022 football schedule.

USC Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2022

Steven LassanMark RossKane Webb

Rice

USC

USC

USC

at Stanford

USC

USC

USC

Fresno State

USC

USC

USC

at Oregon State

Oregon State

USC

USC

Arizona State

USC

USC

USC

Washington State

USC

USC

USC

at Utah

Utah

Utah

Utah

at Arizona

USC

USC

USC

California

USC

USC

USC

Colorado

USC

USC

USC

at UCLA

USC

UCLA

USC

Notre Dame

USC

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Final Record

10-2

9-3

10-2

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
USC is one of the most intriguing teams in college football this year. Lincoln Riley’s arrival, along with key portal additions in quarterback Caleb Williams and receiver Jordan Addison, should make this a much-improved team in 2022. But how much should be expected? The Trojans are attempting a major roster and coaching overhaul and it may take some time for the pieces to come together on both sides of the ball. Also, how much of USC’s 4-8 record last year was due to poor coaching and the cloud hanging over the program from Clay Helton’s dismissal? Or was it a true reflection of the talent on the roster? Despite Riley’s work in the portal, the Trojans still have major concerns on defense up front and need to improve against the pass. Scoring points won’t be a problem, and USC could be favored in 10 of its games this year – provided the staff and roster transition isn’t too much to overcome. I’ll take the Trojans to suffer an early road loss at Oregon State but improve down the stretch and get to double-digit victories and a New Year’s Six bowl trip.

Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
USC was clearly one of the biggest winners this offseason with the hiring of Lincoln Riley and subsequent haul from the transfer portal. Riley has everyone buzzing about the Trojans, and unless everything completely falls apart, the hype is understandable. The schedule also sets up incredibly well for USC, with its toughest Pac-12 game landing in the middle of the slate and the next two toughest games coming at the end. However, it's premature to assume that the Trojans will be all the way back this season. The offense should put up points in bunches and be extremely entertaining to watch, but the defense could give up a fair amount as well because of all the new pieces and this unit's struggles in recent seasons. So while Riley's debut may not result in a Pac-12 title or College Football Playoff berth, nine or more wins and a New Year's Six bowl are two very attainable, if not expected, goals.

Kane Webb (@FightOnTwist)
USC is very much ready to assert its dominance in a winnable Pac-12. The Trojans know that every team in the country is going to be coming after them for a couple of reasons. The primary reasons are Lincoln Riley and that target that's always on USC's back, but this past offseason the Trojans gave their Pac-12 counterparts a bit of extra incentive to put the hurt on when they announced – behind the backs of literally everyone else but UCLA – that they were leaving the Pac-12 to join the Big Ten in 2024. That's right, they didn't even bother to give their conference mates a heads-up that they were taking their ball and leaving the Pac-12, which has left many of these teams in a very precarious spot regarding their own future. Revenge will surely be on the minds of some of these ADs and coaches, and USC will need to be ready every single week.

Podcast: Preseason Awards, QBs on the Rebound, Fall Practice Notes and the Latest on QB Battles