How many wins do USC and UCLA must please followers this season?

Through the opening week of the school soccer season, employees writers Ben Bolch, Ryan Kartje, J. Brady McCollough and Thuc Nhi Nguyen addressed essentially the most urgent questions going through the UCLA and USC soccer applications.

This season’s Faculty Soccer Playoff nationwide championship sport can be performed at SoFi Stadium, so in addition they tackled which group they consider will clinch the title in Inglewood.

How many wins does USC must name this a profitable season?

USC gamers head to observe throughout the first day of fall coaching camp.

(Michael Owen Baker / For The Instances)

Kartje: The honeymoon vitality in Troy remains to be going robust … for the second, at the very least. I believe a lot of the followers perceive {that a} group doesn’t sometimes go from a 4-8 debacle to the precipice of the Faculty Soccer Playoff, irrespective of who your coach occurs to be. That mentioned, this group has sufficient expertise — and a straightforward sufficient schedule — to win at the very least 9 video games within the common season, and that ought to be the expectation. A lot hinges on the Trojans’ journey to Salt Lake Metropolis in October; beat the Utes, and instantly we’re speaking a couple of Pac-12 title favourite and a possible dark-horse playoff contender.

Bolch: Ten. It’s an impatient fan base, and even Lincoln Riley mentioned he anticipated to win huge in 12 months 1. With this a lot hype, there’s no room for early stumbles that may be affordable in additional level-headed conditions.

McCollough: Ben’s proper. Ten wins is the marker for Riley in 12 months 1, and it leaves little or no margin for error contemplating the Trojans play at Utah and towards Notre Dame (every group is consensus preseason high 10). In my Energy 5 picks, I’ve USC dropping to Utah, UCLA and Notre Dame. The bowl sport is more likely to tackle enormous significance for Riley’s program in how his first 12 months is seen by the fan base.

Nguyen: It’s not simply exterior expectations which can be setting the bar excessive for USC this 12 months both. Riley has mentioned a number of occasions that they’re taking part in for championships this 12 months, and to do this the group ought to have at the very least 9 regular-season wins and push towards a tenth with the bowl alternative.

How many wins does UCLA must name this a profitable season?

UCLA players celebrate defensive back Cameron Johnson's second half interception.

UCLA gamers have fun defensive again Cameron Johnson’s interception towards USC on the Coliseum on Nov. 20, 2021.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Instances)

Ben Bolch: It’s not the variety of wins however which of them the Bruins bag that can be most vital. They’ll most likely must win two of three video games towards contenders Utah, Oregon and USC to get to the Pac-12 championship sport. That will doubtless get them to (at the very least) 10 wins.

Nguyen: Particularly with such a straightforward schedule, the Bruins must get to at the very least double-digit wins to maintain the regular (however slower than desired) enchancment of the Chip Kelly period. After a number of years of low-stakes rivalry video games as each UCLA and USC struggled, this 12 months’s figures to have some actual juice as each groups are, theoretically, going to be battling on the high of the convention.

McCollough: Just like USC, Chip Kelly wants 10 wins to be ok with the trajectory of his program in 12 months 5. Which means beating certainly one of Utah, USC and Oregon and caring for the groups that — at the very least on paper — ought to be very beatable for the Bruins. After all, 9-3 with a win over the Trojans within the Rose Bowl could be sufficient to maintain Chip’s seat cooled for one more 12 months.

Kartje: It’s completely crucial, with its cakewalk slate out of the gate, that UCLA win its first 5 video games. After that, we’ll see what Kelly and Co. are actually product of. I’m not satisfied that the Bruins are on the identical degree as Utah, Oregon or USC, but when they will upend one of many Pac-12’s high tier, it’s not unreasonable to assume that they might end with 9 wins this season.

Is the USC highlight truly good for Chip Kelly and UCLA? If that’s the case, why?

UCLA coach Chip Kelly smiles.

UCLA coach Chip Kelly smiles throughout Pac-12 soccer media day July 29 in Los Angeles.

(Damian Dovarganes / Related Press)

Bolch: Completely. Kelly would have made an ace fighter pilot as a result of he loves flying beneath the radar. The USC buzz has cratered curiosity within the Bruins to the purpose that solely two — two! — reporters confirmed as much as a handful of fall coaching camp practices. That leaves Kelly in his component of simply taking part in soccer with none distractions.

Nguyen: Additionally, wasn’t shying away from the nationwide highlight one of many major causes Kelly selected UCLA in 2017 when Florida was courting him as a head teaching candidate too? The chance to work considerably anonymously in Westwood versus beneath the blinding SEC highlight appealed to him, so I don’t anticipate any complaints coming from Kelly if everybody decides to direct their consideration to Heritage Corridor.

Kartje: Truthfully, I’d forgotten totally about Chip Kelly and his sizzling seat this summer time. However whereas USC and Riley take their inevitable heel flip this season, I’ve little question Kelly will indulge in that anonymity for some time. If he can beat Riley of their first assembly on the Rose Bowl, perhaps we’ll see that late-season highlight shift.

McCollough: Chip Kelly sticks to his “Win the Day” mantra irrespective of what’s going on round him, nevertheless it definitely can’t damage that his gamers have needed to hear about USC all offseason after drubbing the Trojans within the Coliseum. Even Chip might discover a option to play that to his benefit motivationally, if he’s inclined. (He most likely isn’t, however perhaps some of us on his teaching and coaching employees are?)

Can Caleb Williams actually contend for the Heisman?

USC quarterback Caleb Williams follows through on a pass at practice.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams follows by way of on a cross throughout fall camp.

(Michael Owen Baker / For The Instances)

Kartje: Undoubtedly. It took only a few video games for Williams to burst onto the scene as a freshman Heisman contender in 2021. Now he’s had a whole 12 months to settle into the system. The child gloves are off, and Riley made clear that he now trusts Williams utterly. The largest leap from any quarterback comes between 12 months 1 and 12 months 2, and Williams is not any abnormal expertise. Three of Riley’s earlier 4 passers at Oklahoma have been at the very least Heisman finalists, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Williams be a part of that distinguished fraternity this season. Reaching that degree, nonetheless, would require USC to at the very least critically contend for a Pac-12 title, if not win one.

Nguyen: It completely comes right down to the group’s efficiency, which might make Alex Grinch one of the vital folks in Caleb Williams’ Heisman marketing campaign. The brand new defensive coordinator has an enormous enterprise in entrance of him to rebuild this protection that was statistically the worst in USC historical past. With so many explosive offensive weapons, Williams might undoubtedly put up Heisman-worthy numbers, but when the protection doesn’t assist the Trojans be nice within the wins column, it’s not going to be sufficient to maintain the Heisman hype prepare working.

Bolch: So that you’re saying it may be the Grinch who stole a cheerful Trojans Christmas? That’s lifeless on. It isn’t Williams that’s the difficulty a lot because the group round him. All people is aware of he can put collectively a Heisman-caliber season, but when the Trojans win fewer than 10 video games it gained’t matter what he does. Quarterbacks taking part in within the Alamo Bowl don’t win Heismans.

McCollough: Caleb Williams completely has an opportunity at successful this system’s eighth Heisman Trophy (sure, we’re counting Reggie Bush). I’ll have one thing later this week on this very subject.

Who do you count on to be the highest performer for UCLA?

UCLA's Zach Charbonnet runs for a touchdown Aug. 28, 2021, at the Rose Bowl.

UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet runs for a landing towards Hawaii on Aug. 28, 2021, on the Rose Bowl.

(Ashley Landis / Related Press)

McCollough: It was fascinating that Chip Kelly has made a degree of claiming that quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson would have been drafted if he had made the choice to go professional. If that’s true, then DTR actually did come again as a result of he’s motivated to complete off the particular season that it appeared just like the Bruins have been going to have final 12 months. DTR has flashed the type of potential that may put a group excessive many occasions. He simply has to do it constantly week in and week out, and I count on he’ll. He additionally has needed to hear all the Caleb Williams hype the whole offseason, fueling his hearth much more.

Bolch: I’m tempted to go in just a few instructions right here — Thompson-Robinson, sack-happy linebacker Darius Muasau and twin edge rushers Gabriel and Grayson Murphy are all intriguing candidates — however in the end I believe Zach Charbonnet dashes into the nation’s consciousness early within the season and stays there by way of Thanksgiving week, placing him in place for a visit to New York for the Heisman ceremony. Charbonnet goes to gobble up yards throughout the Bruins’ best nonconference slate in 30 years, and he’s ok to maintain the momentum moving into Pac-12 play because the Bruins search their first Rose Bowl since 1999.

Nguyen: Media and followers love quarterbacks, however Chip Kelly’s finest offenses undergo their working backs. With Zach Charbonnet, the Bruins have a terrific one to guide the cost. Whereas Dorian Thompson-Robinson will proceed his regular march up the varsity report books, I count on Charbonnet to be the best participant for what ought to be a profitable UCLA offense.

Kartje: All aboard the Zach Charbonnet hype prepare. Put me down as a believer that the Bruins’ high again is main the Pac-12 in dashing when the mud settles on this season.

We finish the season at SoFi Stadium no matter how nicely native groups carry out. Who’s your nationwide champion?

Alabama coach Nick Saban leads his team on the field.

Alabama coach Nick Saban leads his group on the sector earlier than the Faculty Soccer Playoff championship sport towards Georgia on Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.

(Paul Sancya / Related Press)

Kartje: I gained’t decide Alabama. I gained’t decide Alabama. I gained’t — ah nicely, who am I kidding? The Tide roll. Once more.

Bolch: Alabama. In a world altering at particle-accelerator pace, some issues stay the identical.

McCollough: Alabama. Nick Saban and Bryce Younger each have a bone to choose with Kirby Sensible and Georgia, and Ohio State’s protection hasn’t made up the bottom to go toe to toe with Alabama’s offense.

Nguyen: Alabama is inevitable. *Thanos snap.*