As has been expected for weeks, the top player in college football's transfer portal, quarterback Caleb Williams, has followed his former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley to USC. The Trojans beat out the likes of Wisconsin, Georgia, UCLA and an unlikely return to OU. Williams is currently a +500 third-favorite at Caesars Sportsbook to win the 2022 Heisman Trophy, behind Alabama's Bryce Young (+250), the 2021 winner, and Ohio State's CJ Stroud (+350).
"I want to get to work right away, earn the trust of my teammates, win championships and help bring USC back to being a top-rated program," said Williams, who attended his first in-person class at USC on Tuesday and will be cleared to join team workouts in the upcoming days.
Williams didn't open last season as the starter under Riley at Oklahoma but led a comeback in the Red River Rivalry victory over Texas and kept the job from that point on – Williams did get as high as the third favorite for 2021 Heisman at one point.
The former five-star recruit out of Washington, D.C., Williams was named a true freshman All-American by sister-site 247Sports and others. He completed 115 of 184 passes (62.5%) for 1,670 yards and 18 touchdowns against four interceptions (166.7 rating) and rushed 72 times for 408 yards and six touchdowns. The passing yards and passing TDs were the most ever by an OU true freshman QB. Williams also was dynamic in an Alamo Bowl rout of Oregon.
Riley has a history of turning transfer quarterbacks into Heisman winners/candidates, doing so with Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray (both won Heisman) and Jalen Hurts (Heisman finalist) at OU. Southern Cal's last Heisman winner was Reggie Bush in 2005, but that was vacated. Trojans QB Matt Leinart won it the year before.
No question that Williams starts from Day 1 barring injury because the two QBs who played last year for USC, Kedon Slovis and Jaxson Dart, transferred to Pitt and Ole Miss, respectively. Riley has won the "transfer recruiting title" this offseason, a group that includes another former highly-touted recruit at Oklahoma in receiver Mario Williams and former Oregon running back Travis Dye. Via 247Sports, USC's 2022 class is rated No. 13 in the nation and No. 1 in the Pac-12 in the overall class rankings, which factors in transfers.
Are the Trojans national title contenders next season? Probably not as they are +2500 longer shots (same as Oklahoma) but they should be in the preseason Top 25. There are still many holes on a team that finished 4-8 last year. Star wideout Drake London is off to the NFL.
SportsLine Projects USC to be given an Over/Under win total of 9 (it was 8.5 last year) this season because of a fairly easy schedule. All three non-conference games are at home, including Notre Dame. The Trojans don't face Oregon from the Pac-12 North with their toughest trip to Utah.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: USC's 2022 regular-season win total
- Over 9 -115
- Under 9 -115
USC's 2022 schedule
- Sept. 3 vs. Rice
- Sept. 10 at Stanford
- Sept. 17 vs. Fresno State
- Sept. 24 at Oregon State
- Oct. 1 vs. Arizona State
- Oct. 8 vs. Washington State
- Oct. 15 at Utah
- Oct. 29 at Arizona
- Nov. 5 vs. California
- Nov. 11 vs. Colorado
- Nov. 19 at UCLA
- Nov. 26 vs. Notre Dame
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