After a 9-4 effort on the season, the USC Trojans will clash with the 11-1 Fresno State Bulldogs in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 21. The No. 20 Bulldogs experienced a very successful 2013 season, led by a potent offense and stellar quarterback play from Derek Carr.
The Bulldogs' chase of an undefeated season and a BCS bowl berth came to a screeching halt when the San Jose Spartans got the best of Fresno State, beating the Bulldogs 62-52 on Nov. 29. For USC, a tumultuous start to the season was rectified by the tremendous efforts of interim head coach Ed Orgeron, who led the Trojans to a 6-1 record in Pac-12 play, including a November win over then-No. 4 Stanford.
But all good things must come to an end, and athletic director Pat Haden's hiring of Steve Sarkisian as the new head coach in Troy over Orgeron—mere days after USC's 35-14 home loss to crosstown rival UCLA—kind of caused the Trojans to go out with a whimper more than a bang.
Both of these teams are looking for a little respect heading into 2014. Fresno State would love to knock the Trojans down a notch, while USC will be looking to pound the Bulldogs, showing that it is a better team than its record indicates.
USC and Fresno State have only faced each other twice in history, with 2005 being the last time. It was a thrilling tilt, memorable for many great plays but most specifically for Reggie Bush doing Reggie Bush-like things on the sideline. USC went on to win 50-42, and don't think Fresno State has forgotten about it.
There's a certain grudge-match element to this game, so we can expect the Las Vegas Bowl to be another entertaining matchup between the Trojans and Bulldogs. To add more intrigue to this game, these teams open their 2014 season facing each other.
A win in the Las Vegas Bowl for either team will certainly set the tone for things to come next year.
Before we get to the preview, here are the vitals:
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. PT
Place: Sam Boyd Stadium
Radio: Sports USA Media and the American Forces Radio Network
Spread: USC (-7), according to VegasInsider.com