On Sept. 3, USC was embarrassed by No. 1 Alabama on national television. The Trojans led 3-0 midway through the second quarter, but then things fell apart – fast.

Really fast.

Alabama scored 38 unanswered points. Then USC got a field goal. Then Alabama scored two more touchdowns. Final score? 52-6.


This Saturday, exactly two weeks later, USC will face another top-10 team away from home. The Trojans, who pummeled Utah State 45-7 last Saturday, play No. 7 Stanford (1-0) in Palo Alto at 8 p.m. ET.

Dan Wolken doesn’t give the Trojans much of a chance.

“I don’t have much hope for them,” the USA Today college football insider said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Look, USC right now is sort of a hot mess. They’re going to win some games based on the fact that they do have tremendous talent, but everything there just feels unsettled. It doesn’t feel long-term.”

Part of that is because of Clay Helton. At 44, he’s a good young coach. But he’s not Nick Saban or Urban Meyer or even Tom Herman.

“Clay Helton seems like a stop-gap kind of guy,” Wolken said. “He’s a nice guy. I think he’s a solid coach. But does he really have the gravitas to take a program like USC and contend for titles? I think that it’s questionable, and I don’t think we’ve seen anything the first two weeks that would give anybody confidence that they’re really going to move forward with him long-term.”

From No. 8 Washington (2-0) to No. 22 Oregon (2-0), the Pac-12 isn’t exactly a cake-walk, either. USC also plays No. 18 Notre Dame (1-1) in its regular-season finale on Nov. 26.

“I think UCLA could be better than (USC), I think Arizona State could be better than them – I think they’re in for a rough season,” Wolken said. “And I think Stanford will beat them soundly.”


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