With the lights shining down in Arlington Saturday night as the USC football team takes the field for the first game of their season, it won’t be just any other game. Across the field, the top-ranked, defending national champions will be eyeing down the Trojans. Many are anticipating No. 20 USC to lose to Alabama. Even if the Trojans pull off an upset, it would only be the first notch in their season-long uphill battle of a schedule.Playing the Tide gives USC one of the most-anticipated first games in recent years. In the past six seasons, the Trojans opened their season against Hawaii University three times: Minnesota, Fresno State and Arkansas State. To say the Cowboy Classic is a big game would be an understatement.Despite facing off against Alabama to kickoff their season, USC has had a bit of a quiet preseason in comparison to recent program history. In contrast to recent years, the biggest news preceding the start of the season was not a player lying to the University nor was it an intoxicated, profanity-filled speech from a head coach in front of donors and board members.What everyone just wanted to know before the 2016 season was who would be named the starting quarterback: redshirt junior Max Browne or redshirt freshman Sam Darnold? The only real common denominator between this season and past seasons is that USC has a new coach at the reigns.Having a new head coach is not a new situation for the Trojans. In the last six seasons, four different men have led the team, which is only a slight indication of the turmoil USC has experienced. A fresh start is exactly what the Trojans need. This fresh start, though, comes in a tough package.Whether or not the Trojans come out on top after their matchup with the Tide, what lies ahead of them is just as daunting. It’s almost a consensus that USC has the toughest schedule in 2016.Their schedule is bookended by two huge national opponents — No. 1 Alabama and No. 10 Notre Dame — and filled in by tough Pac-12 competition, where no win is guaranteed, no matter the opponent.This tough schedule puts the Trojans in a unique position. They have the opportunity to vault themselves back in the national spotlight in a positive manner and not because of scandals and drama off the field and behind the scenes. It’s a nice break from the national headlines coming out of USC the past few season.Now, back to ’Bama. If USC manages to upset the defending champions, that in no way guarantees a trip to the College Football Playoff. Because USC has the toughest schedule in the nation this season, they’ll have to go probably at least 10-2 — maybe 9-3 — to have a shot at the playoffs.If there were ever a USC way of regaining a place as one of the top programs nationwide, doing it with the toughest schedule of the season would be that way.Jodee Storm Sullivan is a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. Her column, “The Storm Report,” runs Tuesdays.