NCAA Football fans anxious to usher in the 2013-14 bowl season have every reason to be excited for the Saturday contest between No. 20 Fresno State and No. 25 USC. Not only does the matchup serve as the first ranked battle on the college football moneyline, it pits a pair of dueling quarterbacks against one another with bragging rights up for grabs.
For Cody Kessler and the Trojans, the weekend clash serves as an opportunity for the program in transition to prove that life under new head coach Steve Sarkisian is going to be okay. After the late season firing of Lane Kiffin, the bowl game will allow the new staff to get a feel for the players that will factor into USC’s game plan in 2014.
More than just an early audition, however, the bowl game against an opponent of Fresno’s caliber shows that the Trojans’ 2013 campaign wasn’t entirely lost. They may have lost more games than they would have liked to this year, but if every season was a walk in the park, then actual Pac-12 success would lose its meaning. A win by USC here would add to the Pac-12 bowl season win total, which has an over/under total of 6 at Bovada Sportsbook.
According to oddsmakers, USC will be the favorite on the NCAA point spread, granted a 7-point edge against the challenging Bulldogs, despite the fact that they sit lower than them in the BCS standings.
It’s unclear whether USC’s defense will hold water against Fresno’s dominant offense, but the college football betting community seems to think that there will be more than just that on display at the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.
Still, it’s hard to look at this Bulldogs team and not reflect on Derek Carr’s offensive production.
Fresno State boasted more passing yards per game this season than any college football program in the country, enough to give their star under center an impressive 4,866 total on the season to go along with 48 touchdowns.
The fact that said offensive production also happened to power the Bulldogs to a near unbeaten season has driven Carr to the top of the draft board heading into the NFL offseason. Will Carr be the first quarterback taken by the pros this summer? It’s not every day an individual singlehandedly propels a mid-major team like Fresno State to the fifth highest point per game total in the NCAA.
Worth noting, however, is that despite Fresno State’s intriguing stat lines, they never squared off against a ranked opponent at any point this season. Perhaps it’s for that reason, then, that they’re underdogs heading into their bowl game matchup with USC.
If a team can’t eke past an unranked challenger like San Jose State, then who’s to say they stand a chance against an established program like USC, in transition or otherwise.
Regardless, with kick off days away, the fact that the USC/Fresno State pairing has so many football fans talking, tells us that bowl season is here. Sit back and enjoy the show.
Photo via Twitter/@insidetroy