USC enters the 2018 season coming off its first Pac-12 championship since 2008, which earned coach Clay Helton a deserved extension through 2023. For all THEIR accomplishments in 2017, however, the Trojans are likely dissatisfied with the way last year ended. The Trojans not only missed the College Football Playoff, but were also throttled by Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl — a harsh reminder that USC isn't "back" yet. Still, Helton, who enters what is effectively his fourth year as the Trojans' head coach, has instilled a winning product in Los Angeles. That, plus consecutive top-five recruiting classes, should raise expectations through the roof by the start of the 2018 season — but what can fans realistically expect? The Trojans rank 12th in Sporting News' way-too-early top 25 poll, but if they want to return to the pinnacle of the Pac-12 yet again — and potentially break through to the College Football Playoff — they'll have to be better than they were last year.