Gould Headshot squareOn one hand, USC has been dealt a schedule that will test it in just about every way.

The Trojans open with Alabama in Dallas and travel to Stanford and Utah for their third and fourth games. Their final four games, courtesy of a really tough Pac-12 North draw, are against Oregon, and at Washington and UCLA, before their finale against Notre Dame.

On the other hand, Clay Helton is well-versed in enduring tough tests. This will be the seventh season at USC for Helton, who went 6-4 as interim coach last fall after Steve Sarkisian was dismissed for an alcohol problem. Before that, Helton was an assistant when Lane Kiffin was fired on the tarmac at LAX. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.