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This NFL Draft Stat Proves Lincoln Riley Had the Most Underachieving Team in College Football

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Tulane at Southern California

College football teams underachieve. It’s part of the game and, for the most part, is the product of a vastly unpredictable series of outcomes that end up deciding wins and losses throughout the year.

However, some places become notorious for underachieving, and it becomes quite easy to predict where expectations might be too high. For example, Texas became an annual offseason joke over the last decade and was kept out of the College Football Playoff until the final year of its four-team format. They’ve bucked the trend, but it was almost a certainty that they’d be back in the discussion for a rebound every offseason because of the talent on their roster.


The same can be said about USC, who has been underachieving since Pete Carroll left for a job in the NFL. When Lincoln Riley took over in Los Angeles and brought eventual Heisman-winner and No. 1 pick Caleb Williams with him, that was supposed to change.

Still, USC’s defense found a way to ruin a generational talent at quarterback, as the Trojans went 8-5 in Williams final year of college football. He wasn’t the only talented piece on USC’s roster, either.

As Action Network’s Brett McMurphy points out, USC led all unranked teams with seven draft picks in this year’s draft.


Here’s a list of USC players who were selected in the 2024 NFL Draft:

  • Caleb Williams, QB (1st overall, Chicago Bears)
  • Calen Bullock, S (78th overall, Houston Texans)
  • MarShawn Lloyd, RB (88th overall, Green Bay Packers)
  • Jarrett Kingston, OL (215th overall, San Francisco 49ers)
  • Brenden Rice, WR (225th overall, Los Angeles Chargers)
  • Solomon Byrd, DL (238th overall, Houston Texans)
  • Tahj Washington, WR (241st overall, Miami Dolphins)

How do you have seven NFL draft picks on your roster, with several more to come in future drafts, and go 8-5?

Probably the same way you blow a 31-14 lead with Baker Mayfield at quarterback, five future NFL offensive linemen, Mark Andrews at tight end, Hollywood Brown and CeeDee Lamb at wide receiver, and a 200-yard performance from your running back in a College Football Playoff semifinal.

When you give up 34.4 points per game, you’re gonna drop a few. USC underachieved with the worst of them in 2023, but with a revamped defensive staff and philosophy, we’ll see if Riley and company can get it figured out going forward.

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