Freed from the shackles of NCAA probation, the Southern California Trojans begin their chase of a national championship when they play host to the Hawaii Warriors Saturday night at the Coliseum in Los Angeles (7:30 pm ET).
And they do so as one of college football's biggest Week 1 favorites (currently 42 points at most shops tracked by OddsShark.com).
USC opened as 38-point chalk, but the number has climbed as Vegas and international bettors continue to throw money on the Trojans. The total set at 63.
The Trojans have not lost a home game in September since 2001 and are in no danger of falling to the Warriors. But, spotting them six touchdowns on the spread?
"It's a big number, but we have said this before—the bigger the point spread in Week 1, the harder it seems to be for the underdog to cover," said OddsShark.com handicapper Jack Randall, referring to an article here at Bleacher Report earlier in the week.
"We expect that number to creep down a bit before game time and the matchup report shows one shop was already at -41.5 this morning."
USC, ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP poll, has 16 starters back this season from a team that went 10-2 last year. The Trojans would have won the Pac-12's South Division last year, but they were still on probation.
QB Matt Barkley (39/7 TD/INT last year) eschewed the green pastures of the pros to come back for his senior season, and he's joined by 1,000 yard rusher Curtis McNeal, WRs Robert Woods and Marqise Lee (a combined 180 catches/2,400 yards LY), four starters along the offensive line and seven starters on defense.
And if that wasn't enough, USC added Penn State transfer Silas Redd, who rushed for 1,200 yards last year.
Hawaii, on the other hand, gets just 10 starters back this year from a team that went 6-7 last year. Six starters are back on offense, but they'll have to replace the pass-catch combination of QB Bryant Moniz and WR Royce Pollard.
And only four starters return on defense, a unit that gave up 387 YPG last season.
So new head coach Norm Chow, a former USC offensive coordinator, has his hands full in his first season with the Warriors.
These teams last met two Septembers ago when the Trojans went to Hawaii and came home with a 49-36 victory in their first game under Coach Kiffin. But it was the Rainbows who covered the point spread as 20-point home dogs.
Free NCAAF Pick: USC is going to win this game, it's just a matter of when Kiffin calls off the dogs. Last year the Trojans finished their season with a 50-0 victory over UCLA; expecting a similar result Saturday night, we'll give the points and take Southern Cal.