Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl Picks for Fresno State vs. USC

Jeff Grant

Monday, December 9, 2013 2:55 PM GMT

Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 2:55 PM GMT

The Fresno State Bulldogs and USC Trojans will open up their 2014 regular-season schedules against each other, but they’ll first face off in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.

Let’s take a closer look at the college football betting lines for this matchup at Sam Boyd Stadium, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

Mountain West champs

Fresno State rebounded nicely from its only loss of the 2013 regular season, as it came away with a 24-17 victory over the Utah State Aggies as 2.5-point favorites in the Mountain West Championship game last Saturday.

The Bulldogs can set a new school record for victories in a season with a win, as they enter with an 11-1 SU and 5-7 ATS mark.

Moving pieces

USC lands in a very difficult situation, as the program will be led by its third coach on the sidelines in this affair, as offensive coordinator Clay Helton assumes that role with former Washington Huskies front man Steve Sarkisian waiting in the wings.  

The Trojans finished off a tumultuous year with a 9-4 SU and 6-7 ATS record, with former interim head coach Ed Orgeron doing a tremendous job after the firing of Lane Kiffin on Sept. 28.

It’s important to point out that USC will host Fresno State to open up its 2014 campaign, which makes this one of the more difficult postseason affairs to handicap.

Driving that Car-r

College football handicappers will take a long look at backing the Bulldogs, considering senior quarterback Derek Carr has thrown for 48 touchdowns and just seven interceptions—leading directly to an offense that leads the country in passing yards per game.

Fresno State will be challenged on that side of the ball in taking on USC—a defensive unit that was ranked in the Top 25 in total defense, scoring defense and red zone defense.

Balanced offense

The Trojans are more balanced offensively than the Bulldogs, as they possess four running backs with at least 361 yards rushing, while quarterback Cody Kessler has wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Marqise Lee to target on the perimeter.  

USC finished the regular season ranked seventh in the Pac-12 in rushing offense, while sitting 10th in terms of passing.

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Prediction

I’ve established the Trojans as four-point favorites in this matchup, but this is one of the more difficult bowl games to handicap nearly two weeks in advance.

USC’s motivation to play in this game is going to be questioned, especially when going against a senior quarterback on the other side. USC Trojans to take the win for your college football picks.

College Football Pick: USC Trojans -4

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