Las Vegas Bowl Pick: Fresno State vs. USC
Las Vegas Matchup: Fresno State Bulldogs vs. USC Trojans
Date/Time: December 21st, 3:30 ET
Las Vegas Bowl Odds from WagerWeb
Point Spread: USC -6
The USC Trojans are going to have to break in their third different head coach of the year at the Las Vegas Bowl, where they will take on the Fresno State Bulldogs in the second bowl game of the 2013 bowl season.
The question of motivation is definitely going to be there for the Bulldogs. They had a shot at going to the BCS this year, but their defense couldn’t figure out how to hold down the San Jose State Spartans in the last regular season game of the year. Fresno State did ultimately win the first ever Mountain West Championship Game, and it does have a big time opponent waiting in the wings here in USC, so at least from that standpoint, this should still be a team to be reckoned with. However, if the Bulldogs don’t get their defense worked out, there is no chance of them defending WR Marqise Lee and the rest of the big time offensive stars from Tinseltown. QB Derek Carr, who was on the Heisman Trophy short list until the end of the season when his team was beaten, did throw for 4,866 yards and 48 TDs against just seven picks this year, and he is playing in his final game before he heads to the NFL, where there is a good chance he is going to be a Top 10 pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
It has been a wild roller coaster of a season for the Men of Troy. Head Coach Lane Kiffin was a train wreck from the time that he first landed in LA, but when you really look back at his defeats, those losses to the Washington State Cougars and the Arizona State Sun Devils weren’t as bad as they were perceived to be at the time. Ed Orgeron took over and led the team to five wins in a row from the end of October through to the game against the UCLA Bruins, but the fact of the matter is that he was crushed in the game at home against UCLA and was ultimately replaced by the incoming Head Coach Steve Sarkisian, who will take over as soon as this game is over. The offense for USC has had its moments this year where it has been suspect at best, but a lot of that was thanks to Lee being out of the fold. He only had 673 yards and two TDs this whole season, but this is a game-changing receiver who had a terrible quarterback situation to deal with. QB Cody Kessler did throw for 16 TDs and 2,623 yards, but he is nowhere near as good as some of the other USC quarterbacks who have come through the school in the last decade and a half.
There is a tad bit of history here between these teams, as they met at the LA Coliseum back in 2005 in what ended up being a gritty 50-42 win for the Trojans. That was one of the games that helped put Fresno State on the map though, and now, it is being rewarded with another shot at a big time team. The Bulldogs have always had the motto of, “Anyone. Anytime. Anywhere,” and that rings true in this one. They covered both of their games last season against Pac-12 schools, and this very well might not be an exception.