It’s a new era in Southern California. Gone is interim head coach Ed Orgeron, who led USC to a 10-4 record in 2013, even though the team fired head coach Lane Kiffin after five games. His replacement is former USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who returns to LA after five years at Washington.
Sarkisian’s Trojans come into this season ranked No. 15 in both the AP and Coaches preseason polls, and have a familiar foe on the schedule in week one: Fresno State. The two teams met in the Las Vegas Bowl last season, and USC waxed the Bulldogs, 45-20. Fresno State will certainly want revenge, and USC will want to avoid another slow start to the season. This one should be fun.
Date: Saturday, August 30, 2014
Time: 7:30 PM EST
TV Channel: Fox
Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Los Angeles, CA)
Betting Line: USC -21 via 5Dimes
Prediction: Per usual, USC’s insanely talented. The team is stacked with four and five-star recruits, and unlike last year, there’s no uncertainty about its coaches’ employment status. There’s also clarity at the quarterback position, as Cody Kessler is the clear-cut starter in Los Angeles. The Trojans are skilled and fast on the outside, and Sarkisian is known for having a tough squad in the trenches. If the team can overcome some depth issues, 2014 can be a big year for USC.
You can probably expect that Fresno State will try to throw for a bunch of yards, as the Bulldogs were the No. 1 passing team in the country last year. Of course, that can be difficult early on, as quarterback Derek Carr is now in the NFL. However, if Brian Burrell or Brandon Connette can step in and replace Carr, the team has enough talent on offense that things can get interesting.
Give us USC to win at home, but for Fresno State to cover. We the amount of offensive talent on both teams, this can be one of the most interesting and entertaining games of the first week of the season.