It’s not the late-November week off, however. That’s not a benefit. USC has to play nine straight weeks from Week 4 through Week 12. That’s a hardship, not a benefit. USC will derive a benefit from that late-November week off only if it makes the Pac-12 Championship Game in Las Vegas. USC has to go through a Pac-12 gauntlet unlike any other if it wants to reach Vegas first.
The one real benefit of this 2023 schedule is that the backloaded nature of the slate means Alex Grinch basically gets a month and a half to get the defense in order. The soft nonconference openers against San Jose State and Nevada, plus early Pac-12 games against Stanford, Arizona State, Colorado, and Arizona should enable USC to get to 6-0 without needing great performances from its defense.
Yes, the backloaded schedule will be hell to deal with once mid-October arrives, but the defense won’t have to figure everything out by Labor Day or even by the end of September. The defense gets until October 14 to truly prepare for its assignment.
We talked to Mark Rogers at The Voice of College Football: