It's a new era in Hollywood, out goes Clay Helton, and in comes former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, along with a host of transfers. It's an ambitious move by USC football, a program who have been stuck in the doldrums of mediocrity since Pete Carroll departed over a decade ago.

A move that seems set to return the Trojans to the precipice of the heights they reached under Carroll, where they spent the first half of the 2000s dominating the college football landscape. A move that also fires a warning shot to USC's future conference mates in the Big 10 that the Trojans will not lie down without a serious fight.

But before Lincoln Riley's squad strolls into Ann Arbor on a cool October evening, they have to get through his first campaign as coach, this 2022 season. With it is a relatively light schedule, featuring Oregon State and Washington State as cross-division opponents, along with Rice, Fresno State and Notre Dame as out of conference foes.

Right now, however, there's little to talk about as far as the program goes. So what better time than now to make three way too early USC football predictions ahead of the 2022 season? Let's get into it.

USC Trojans Predictions For 2022 College Football Season

3. USC football finishes second in the Pac 12 South

Lincoln Riley may have brought some elite talent with him from Norman, most notably Caleb Williams and Mario Williams respectively, but there's still enough deficiencies in the roster to project that USC won't overcome Utah to make the trip to Vegas for the conference championship.

While the Trojans could very well start their season 6-0, they follow that up with a trip to Rice-Eccles Stadium to play the Utes, and at the moment it's just hard to say that USC walks out of that stadium with the win. Utah has become probably the hardest place to play in the entire Pac 12, and that reputation wasn't earned for nothing.

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After that, USC has a pretty favorable next three before a road trip to Pasadena to take on rivals UCLA, and then Notre Dame, so it's definitely possible the Trojans lose both of those games as well. I'm sure there's plenty of conference championship appearances in USC's future, but in 2022, I just don't see it happening.

2. Caleb Williams looks good, but not Heisman contender good

The main roster deficiency that USC has right now is on the offensive line. Protecting Caleb Williams will likely be priority number one for USC's offensive staff, be it through extra blockers, motion, roll outs, or all of the above. However, that all can't be done on every play, so expect Williams to get hurried and/or sacked more often than you'd expect.

That's a recipe for slightly deflated stats, and while many currently peg Williams as a potential Heisman candidate, I'm not sure that status holds up over the course of the season. If he spends significant time on his back, he's not spending that time throwing touchdowns. Any time he's not throwing touchdowns is time that hurts his potential to wind up in New York in December.

1. USC football doesn't win 10 games

We've already mentioned three games that USC may find themselves on the losing side of, those being away at Utah, away at UCLA and at home against Notre Dame, which leaves the Trojans with a regular season record of 9-3 if they win every other game.

USC also still needs to improve on defense, so who's to say they don't drop one more in there somewhere? Say, at home against a Cal team who have won two of the last three meetings between the two schools?

This is obviously not a big deal for the long-term aspirations inside the USC program, but a first season without winning 10 games for Lincoln Riley may catch some college football fans off guard a bit, especially those who don't follow Pac 12 schools.