Fresno State vs. USC Prediction: High-Octane Offenses Set to Clash in the Coliseum
Points should be piling up when the Trojans host the Bulldogs late Saturday night.
Kane Webb (Athlon Sports) — What a difference a year makes, no? USC fired Clay Helton following a 42-28 drubbing by Stanford, and this year USC returned the favor by hammering Stanford 41-28 last Saturday en route to becoming one of the most explosive and efficient football teams in the nation. The differences are many, but the main one is new Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley and everything he brought with him. Riley’s impressive talent infusion includes Jordan Addison, the Pitt transfer who is the best wide receiver in the nation, according to Pro Football Focus.
Up next is an equally explosive and efficient offense in Fresno State. Both teams enter the game from a position of strength, even if the Bulldogs are coming off a loss. They led Oregon State by as many as nine points in the second half last weekend at home before the Beavers, who are much improved under head coach Jonathan Smith and could be a factor in the Pac-12 this season, rallied to win it on a touchdown run on the final play of the game. USC should be well aware that this Fresno State team is no “Group of 5 pushover.”
These Bulldogs are a quality football team and are absolutely going to be stepping on the gas the whole game. Fans in Fresno would rather see the Bulldogs throw everything at USC and fail than play timidly and lose a game in that fashion. They tend to be hopeless romantics and pragmatic at the same time. Confident but completely aware that this is not Helton’s team they’ll be playing. So now it’s time for the Trojans to show just how different they are under Riley.
Fresno State at No. 7 USC
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept.17 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: USC -11.5
Tickets: As low as $36 on SITickets.com*
When Fresno State Has the Ball
Quarterback Jake Haener is no stranger to USC, and pressure hasn’t seemed to bother him so far. I guess you could harp on the number of touchdowns (just one) he threw last week against Oregon State if you wanted, but you also need to give him credit for his 360-yard performance on 29 completions with no interceptions. His supporting cast showed up too, with Jordan Mims running for 122 yards and two scores and Cal transfer Nikko Remigio posting 100 receiving yards on six catches. So the offense has the trigger man and the weapons necessary to move the chains and put points on the scoreboard.
For USC, the defense has to at least make Haener work through his progressions instead of giving him wide-open targets to throw to. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s bend-but-don’t-break approach has worked thus far. The Trojans lead the nation with eight takeaways, which is even more impressive considering the offense has yet to turn it over. Assuming that side of the ball can maintain its mistake-free play that gives the defense a little more margin for error, that could allow for Grinch to take more risks when it comes to dialing up pressure to try and rattle Haener and force him into making a mistake or two.
When USC Has the Ball
What do you say about the Trojans and their new-look offense at this point? They just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing and that should be more than enough to outscore Fresno State. Quarterback Caleb Williams is working himself into various different award conversations following his 341-yard, four-TD dissection of Stanford. Addison is doing his thing, ranking in the top 25 nationally in the three main receiving categories, but he’s far from the only one catching passes and racking up the YAC. Collectively, USC is averaging 14.9 yards per reception.
But it hasn’t been a pass-happy approach either. The Trojans are averaging 5.9 yards per carry with transfers Travis Dye (Oregon) and Austin Jones (Stanford) both doing better than that. USC needs to continue to pick up the pace on the offense and open things up schematically. This unit has already made significant strides, but now it’s time for the offense to take that next step and show that it can adapt and not get stagnant. That was something that Helton’s team never could seem to accomplish, so this is another way in which Riley can prove his worth and justify the major investment and commitment the school made to him to lure him from Oklahoma.
USC has had incredible fumble and turnover luck through the first two games. Not a single bounce has gone against the Trojans and none of their tipped passes or overthrown balls have come back to haunt them. You have to wonder how long that can last without lulls here and there. Even the best teams have “those games” over the course of a season, and even though “due” isn’t a thing in college football or statistics, for that matter, it feels like USC is due for a shootout-style game. Fresno State is talented enough and familiar enough to be that team.
The Trojans should be able to put this game away with a key stop here and there. It wouldn’t surprise me if this game played out like the 2005 contest (USC won 50-42). These Bulldogs have that type of talent. Grinch’s defenses are aggressive enough to force a turnover, probably two. If USC can accomplish that and the offense can continue to grow, this game should end up as one of those closer-than-score-would-suggest contests when all is said and done.
Prediction: USC 46, Fresno State 38
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One of the most infuriating aspects of The Cat’s teams was their ineffectiveness in the red zone, particularly inside the 10. This team is ice inside the 10. At the moment, I cannot recall a single time we’ve failed to score a TD this year once inside the 10.
Good game overall, it was a shame to see Haener probably end his season this early. The guy is a warrior. Now it is time to prep for Oregon St, who I think will be right about the same as Fresno. Not sure if they have the same fierce defense Fresno showed last night.
Really pleased with the result. The offense and Caleb wasn’t as sharp early, but was late, and the defense is bend not break, and gives up too many big plays, but did enough without depending on turnovers. Caleb has got to be the early Heisman leader. So great to see the buzz and energy back in the Coli. Good night all!
Good night all.
Good game! Lot of things to work on but a solid effort. Have a tough game next week at Oregon State but I have a lot of confidence in this team.
love …..LOVE ….. LOVE THIS SC TEAM ….. (It’s 2AM ….I’m out have a GREAT NIGHT ALL ) FIGHT ON !!!!!
Love the goal-line stand and fight til the end. Last years team gave up in the second half, especially if behind
The goal line stand was just awesome, and worth a lot IMO.
A goal line stand ! …..NICE !
Nice goal line stop
Foreman is playing now
Cannot figure that kid out.
Everything I have heard is it is a effort situation.
Shows how far he’s slid down the depth chart.
I wonder if he enters the portal at the end of the season
Fresno St still playing at 100% effort .
The Ohio State game Fox announcers said USC was overrated. I think Fox is overrated. They have run more commercials than needed and still are. I mean a full 5 minutes before the last play of the first quarter followed by another 5 minutes a few ticks later. The game is over and they’re running commercials 4:09 left
I’m really happy the way we came out and played the second half, especially after last week
Hey ……If we have to lets give our field goal kicker some work .
we now have two 100 yard rushers in the same game. That hasn’t happened in a long time.
I can’t remember the last time we had two 100 yard rushers in the same game. Great to see we have a strong running game and balance in the Offense. Travis Dye’s TD run was a thing of beauty!
No need to keep any 1’s out there.
Haskins hurt .
Oh no! Not another lineman down
Actually the same guy who went down earlier. (Haskins)
I wish they would put Moss in and keep it on the ground
When we start recruiting defensive skill and depth, this program is going to be scary good
Let’s see some 2nd team O. No need to have anyone get hurt.
Now the game is done.
Garbage time is a betters worst enemy!
Never were there ever truer words said
That was pretty impressive list of qbs that Jeff Tefford sent to the NFL
He was on my list to hire, but Riley seems to doing okay
Our kickoff return coverage seems to need some work .
Play hard to the end, just like Riley wants
That’s it! Now just need to stay ahead of the 12.5 spread!
I need another 10 at least.
Just pound it in
Dye 102 yds Jones 94 yds rushing so far
Are you still sure that your Miami wager was for 3000 and not 300!
That one sure didn’t work out to well. Miami forgot to bring their offense.
In the past, even when the run was working, Harrell and Helton would stubbornly stick to their plan and think they were outsmarting everyone. Riley is doing what we hoped, running more in the second half because it’s been there all day!
Man , I love that hard-running fight for extra yards
Time to bury Fresno and make the 4th quarter a little bit of a breather.
First game I have seen USC make several errors. When it works and everyone is on the same page it is unstoppable. When assignments get blown it falls apart quickly. Both sides of the ball.
Yes! Better to be lucky than good sometimes. Now a dagger drive!
From your mouth to Caleb’s ears…..
Third and long
This SC Defense ……….is giving me some concern ……………………
Terrible defense. Terrible
That can’t keep happening! Embarrassing!
Power just went out. I lost the game.
Anyone think that we are going to hit the over (71.5)?
As they say John, “Life is to short to bet the unders”.
Huge response to Fresno TD! Riley, please run, run, run rest of the game to take time off the clock and keep D off the field.
Nice run by Travis Dye…..it was all his effort
Broke loose from 5 tacklers
We haven’t had a back like him in a long time.
What a run !!!!!!!!!!
i have to remember that we can’t fix everything the first year. Tedford is too good of a coach to let his team give op when a QB goes down
This is still a ballgame. Tedford isn’t fazed by SC.
Our defense is just not good. I was hoping for a little more from them this week.
I think the first team is decent. We do some subs to rest guys and we get gashed.
It sure better tighten up for next week for sure.
That was embarrassing
Goforth was in again. The drop off from Lee to Goforth is huge.
Huge. Goforth is no good. Why not give Raesjon a shot?
They are not out of the game yet (Regretfully ).
Now we can play ball control and run to set up the pass.