The Fresno State Bulldogs open their season with a visit to the USC Trojans on Saturday night. USC has won three of their four meetings with Fresno State, including a 52-13 victory in the most recent contest on August 30, 2014.
While Fresno State usually hasn’t had enough firepower to keep up with USC, this year’s team can be very competitive.
Fresno State Bulldogs vs. USC Trojans
Saturday, August 31 at 10:30 PM ET
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
*All odds and betting info courtesy of OddsShark and originally posted by Bovada
- Fresno State vs. USC -14
- Over/Under: 52
Fresno State Bulldogs
Last year Fresno State finished 10-2 in the regular season and won the Mountain West Conference Championship after a 19-16 overtime victory against Boise State on December 1. Then they beat Arizona State 31-20 in the Las Vegas Bowl on December 15.
Fresno State lost a couple of linebackers who were the leaders of their defense but they return key players in the secondary, which should help them keep being strong performers on defense. Marcus McMaryion, last year’s starting quarterback, graduated so it is time for his backup Jorge Reyna to take over under center.
KeeSean Johnson and Jamire Jordan, two of the team’s most prolific wideouts last season are gone but Reyna will still have plenty of weapons, led by running backs Ronnie Rivers (743 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 132 carries) and Jordan Mims (436 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 113 carries) and senior wideout Derrion Grim, who caught 20 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games.
USC finished the season 5–7 overall and 4–5 against Pac-12 opponents but they return 26 starters, including special teams, which is why they are considered among the favorites to make some noise in the Pac-12.
JT Daniels was their starting quarterback as a true freshman last year and he will open the season as their signal-caller. Daniels threw for 2,672 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 11 games last season.
USC’s receiving corps has many talented guys and the passing game can be their greatest strength, as long as Daniels doesn’t force throws. The team will transition to an Air Raid offense and it can be formidable with playmakers like Michael Pittman Jr., Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyler Vaughns, Velus Jones, Bru McCoy, Kyle Ford and Devon Williams.
Trends and Prediction
The Fresno State Bulldogs are:
- 4-0 ATS in their last four games on grass
- 5-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games
- 14-3-1 ATS in their last 18 road games
- 27-7-1 ATS in their last 35 games overall
The USC Trojans are:
- 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 games on grass
- 7-19-1 ATS in their last 27 games overall
- 3-9 ATS in their last 12 home games
- 1-7 ATS in their last eight non-conference games
The Over is:
- 16-5-1 in Fresno State’s last 22 games against Pac-12 opponents
- 16-7-1 in Fresno State’s last 24 non-conference games
- 13-6-1 in USC’s last 20 non-conference games
This is a make-or-break season for USC and it starts with this game. Fresno State can give them plenty of trouble, even with the evident talent disparity. Don’t expect Fresno State to be intimidated by playing in a big stage, they can make this game interesting. USC has enough firepower to pull away at the end but Fresno State will make this game interesting.
Picks: Fresno State +14 & Over 52