The Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl betting line favors the No. 25 USC Trojans against the No. 20 Fresno State Bulldogs, and is the only matchup of the day that features ranked teams. This is the second game on opening day of bowl season, and kicks off at 3:30pm EST, and while USC stands as moderate -6.5 favorites, you have to imagine that this team is sorely out of sorts.
At the beginning of the season, the Trojans started with some lofty hopes, but things quickly went sour as the team lost to Washington State and then Arizona State weeks later. Lane Kiffin, who started as the head coach and is now evaluating Alabama’s offense for Nick Saban, was summarily fired and replaced by Ed Orgeron who went on to lead the Torjans on a 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS run before he was passed over for the head coaching job. Jilted and jaded, Ogregon quit on the spot leaving the head coaching duties to offensive coordinator Clay Helton who will hold the headsets for just one day before Steve Sarkisian inherits the job in 2014.
Confused? Well if you’re scratching your head trying to keep track of all this, just imagine the mental state of the players. The Trojans are undeniably talented and remain one of the strongest recruiting schools in the country, but it’s virtually impossible to withstand a coaching turnover rate that rampant. The Trojans went a promising 9-4 SU overall but were just 6-7 ATS and 2-4 ATS when traveling. They’re largely favored on the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl betting line by virtue of that aforementioned talent combined with their immense public backing.
Derek Carr and Fresno State aren’t slouches by any stretch of the imagination. The Bulldogs lost just one game this season, but also went a miserable 5-7 ATS. Carr led all quarterbacks with a surreal 4,866 passing yards and 48 touchdowns on the year but his defensive counterparts in Fresno were shameful.
The Bulldogs allowed an embarrassing 425.8 yards and 29.1 points against on average. Teams virtually marched up the field at will against this defense and six teams scored at least 28 or more points against them. Of course, it’s easy to think that Fresno has no chance against USC and the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl betting line because – let’s face it – they haven’t faced anyone that’s as gifted overall as USC but that vastly underestimates the state of USC football in general.
It also undermines how Fresno played against a much-better-than-you-think team from Utah State in the MWC Championship match. When the stakes were high against a good team, Fresno’s defense prevailed. I think USC is a very good team. They proved it with wins against Arizona, Oregon State, California and an impressive grind against Stanford in a 20-17 victory. However, with so much turmoil befalling USC in terms of leadership, I can’t endorse them against a high octane offense led by one of the better quarterbacks in the country.