USC & Fresno State A Year Older and Wiser
The USC Trojans will try to rebound from a disastrous 2018 campaign when they begin the 2019 season at home against the Fresno State Bulldogs. The odds from BetAnySports list the Trojans as 13.5 point favorites with an over/under of 53 points.
TV: ESPN; TIME: 10:30 pm EST
LINE: USC -13.5; O/U: 53
USC’s dreadful 2018 season that resulted in them missing a bowl game and having their first losing campaign since 2000 can be blamed in part on the youth of the team. The Trojans started true freshman JT Daniels at quarterback and surrounded him with a supporting cast that was just as young.
The results early in the season were ugly, including losses to Stanford and Texas. USC appeared to turn the corner at one point, beating Washington State and a ranked Colorado team. But five losses in their final six games, albeit close losses more times than not, prevented the Trojans from reaching a bowl game.
However, USC is hoping that the payoff for those growing pains will start to show up in 2019. In fact, Daniels appeared to turn the corner late in the season and had one of his best games in the season finale against Notre Dame. He also fought off some competition for the starting job in training camp and will get back all of his top receivers, setting the stage for a big step forward this year.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, the opposite thing is happening on the other side of the ball. USC took heavy losses at both linebacker and in their secondary, so nobody should be expecting the Trojans to have one of the best defenses in the Pac-12 this year. It’ll be up to a loaded defensive line to help side some of the weaknesses on the rest of the defense until USC can get their younger players up to speed.
Fresno State Bulldogs Look to Build off Last Season
The Bulldogs will try to take advantage of that young USC defense in the opener, but the Fresno State offense will have plenty of rebuilding to do itself. Quarterback Marcus McMaryion, Fresno’s top receiving threats, and four starters on the offensive line all have to be replaced. They have a senior in Jorge Reyna taking the reins at quarterback, but he doesn’t have much game experience and opening the season at the Coliseum against USC could be a daunting task.
For Fresno State to have a chance in this game, they’ll have to lean on their defense. In past years, that hasn’t been a problem, but the Bulldogs suffered heavy losses on that side of the ball over the offseason, including a couple of early departures to the NFL.
The Bulldogs have spent the offseason moving some pieces around hoping to prevent any gaping holes in their defense. Mykal Walker, who was All-Mountain West last year at defensive end is now a middle linebacker. Meanwhile, Arron Mosby will make the move from the secondary to outside linebacker. The good news is that Fresno State has plenty of versatile pieces, but they can only hope that they fit together as well as they did last season.
This, That, and a Dart Throw
On paper, Fresno State could be catching USC at a good time. Jeff Tedford has quickly turned his alma mater into one of the top mid-majors in the country. The Bulldogs are 22-6 in Tedford’s two seasons. That includes a Mountain West championship and top-20 ranking last season.
Fresno State also has the confidence of a team that won at UCLA last season. However, their other games against power-conference teams in the last couple of years haven’t gone well. The Bulldogs have suffered blowouts at the hands of Alabama and Washington and couldn’t even beat an average Minnesota team last year.
USC also took care of business when they faced Fresno State a couple of times earlier this decade. The Trojans won 45-20 in 2013 and 52-13 in 2014. Obviously, none of the players are the same, but those results are a good reminder of the talent difference that exists between a national program like USC and a Mountain West team like Fresno State. That talent difference should be on display once again on Saturday.
The College Football Dart Throw: USC 38, Fresno State 17
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USC Trojans Trends
- Trend Under is 35-15-1 in Trojans last 51 games as a home favorite of 10.5 or greater. Hit % 70.00% (51) O/U 15|35 Push 1 W/L
- Over is 3-0-1 in Trojans last 4 games as a home favorite of 0.5-3.0. 100.00% (4) 3|0 1
- Under is 13-5 in Trojans last 18 games as a favorite of 10.5 or greater. 72.20% (18) 5|13 0
- Trojans are 2-12 ATS in their last 14 games as an underdog. 14.30% (14) 0 2|12
Fresno State Bulldogs Trends
- Trend Under is 4-0 in Bulldogs last 4 games as a road favorite. Hit % 100.00% (4) O/U 0|4 Push 0 W/L
- Over is 19-7 in Bulldogs last 26 games as an underdog of 10.5 or greater. 73.10% (26) 19|7 0
- Over is 12-5 in Bulldogs last 17 games as a road underdog of 10.5 or greater. 70.60% (17) 12|5 0
- Under is 5-0 in Bulldogs last 5 games as a road favorite of 3.5-10.0. 100.00% (5) 0|5 0
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