The sojourn of the USC Trojans from major college football is at an end. Two years off from bowl sanctions, they now have to be prepared to win. It's national championship or bust.
USC has plenty to be excited about. In terms of skill players, no team is more talented. Matt Barkley at quarterback, Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal at running back, and Marqise Lee, Robert Woods and whoever else lines up at wide receiver, not to mention a strong offensive line up front. No team will be tougher to stop offensively if they're humming right and Barkley is on his game.
A statement game against Hawaii will ring the perfect note. The Trojans are heavy favorites to beat the Rainbows. Although Norm Chow is the guy in charge, USC has generally stifled their old commander-in-chief offensively. In fact, Hawaii was the team that lit up USC offensively two years ago in Lane Kiffin's and Monte Kiffin's debut, but plenty has changed since then. Will the Rainbows show that their passing attack can still affect USC's pass defense, and open up some big questions on whether the Trojan defense can be as good as their offense?
Whatever the case, the preseason is done. It's time for USC to prove they're back on the field, and show that they're the elite team of the Pac-12 once again.
SB Nation Snippets
Trevor Wong of Conquest Chronicles wants to see how well the defensive line plays without Devon Kennard.
1. How will the defensive line play?
Much has been talked about USC's defensive line, and that was prior to losing senior defensive end Devon Kennard for possibly the entire season. As has been said many times, the Trojans are awfully young up front. Other than senior Wes Horton, the remaining three players projected to start --- redshirt sophomore George Uko, sophomore J.R. Tavai and redshirt freshman Antwaun Woods --- have a combined two starts between them. And those two starts belong to Uko last season. Coach Norm Chow is an offensive mastermind and he'll likely try to keep the defense off balance all game long. So, can this defensive front generate enough pressure on the quarterback? And, can they limit their mistakes? This is the first game these four will be playing together, so trying to establish some continuity is paramount before the real test begins on the road for the next four of five games.
1. Much like everybody else, the oddsmakers clearly think this game will be a blowout as USC is favored by almost 40 points. Are there any tricks Norm Chow can pull out of his bag to keep this game somewhat close or pull off a huge upset?
First off I think the 40 point spread is just way too much no matter how good USC is projected to be, however I do expect USC to pull away and win quite easily. Well, unfortunately for Hawaii they lost their starting quarterback from 2011 with Bryant Moniz gone and Duke transfer Sean Schroeder winning the gig after coming in just for fall camp, so that can not be good that a transfer who did not play at a low-level ACC schools wins the starting job.
Chow likes to throw the ball, as we have seen at all of his stops as an offensive coordinator, but it is a more pro-style set and not the four- and five-wide receiver sets that Hawaii is notoriously known for. The one strength on this Hawaii team that fits with Chow's scheme is that running back Joey Iosefa is the teams returning rusher from last year where he had 548 yards and averaged five yards a carry.