Free 2013 Las Vegas Bowl Game Picks
#20 Fresno State Bulldogs vs. #25 USC Trojans
Date: Saturday, 12/21/2013 Time: 3:00pm ET on ABC
Game Line: USC -7 (from JustBet) Over/Under: 62
Fresno State had an impressive year this year. They were 10-0 heading into a matchup with conference foe San Jose State when they had their BCS hopes crushed by the Spartans in a 62-52 upset. The Bulldogs did rebound the following week in the Mountain West championship game, defeating a tough Utah State team 24-17. They are led by their outstanding quarterback Derek Carr, who was the nation’s leading passer this year with 4,866 passing yards, along with 48 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions on the season. Carr’s main target is wide receiver Devonte Adams, who was second in the nation this year in receiving yards with 1,645. They have a decent running game, led by Josh Quezada (787 yds) and Marteze Waller (629 yds), who both average more than 5 yards per carry. Their defense has been a liability this year, allowing 29.1 points per game, and allowing 425.1 yards per game. They also give up an average of 5.57 yards per play.
USC has had one of the stranger seasons in years past. After a 62-41 loss to Arizona State in late September, head coach Lane Kiffin was fired. Assistant Ed Orgeron was then named interim coach by athletic director Pat Haden. The coaching change provided a spark, as the Trojans won six of their last eight games, including a 20-17 upset win over then #4 ranked Stanford. The Trojans lost to their cross-town rival UCLA in the final game of the season 35-14, in which shortly after there was another coaching change. Washington head coach and former USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was hired as their new head coach. In a bizarre turn of events, Orgeron was offered to stay on as an assistant, yet declined and immediately resigned. Now, offensive coordinator Clay Helton will coach the Trojans in Saturday’s bowl game. USC had one of the top defenses in the country this year, ranking 16th in total defense allowing only 341.5 yards per game. On offense, they averaged 218.1 yards per game through the air, and 174.2 yards rushing per game.
When analyzing this game, it’s tough to tell what the mindset is of both of these teams. First you have Fresno State, which had their minds set on a BCS bowl, yet came up short. They did however come back after the loss to San Jose State to win their conference championship game. Then you have USC, who is being coached by a guy that more than likely won’t be on Steve Sarkisian’s staff. The players responded to Orgeron as he was well respected and with him leaving you know they have to be somewhat hurt and disappointed. You also have a team that is on the third coach, and playing a team from a lesser conference. How motivated can the Trojans be? Fresno State has lost their last four bowl games, and senior Derek Carr will want to go out a winner. I have to take the points here, as even though USC might be the better team on paper, Las Vegas isn’t the best place for a disinterested team.
2013 Free Las Vegas Bowl Picks (Side & Total): Fresno State +7 Over 62
2013 Las Vegas Bowl Final Score Prediction: Fresno State 35 USC 28