Fresno State Bulldogs vs. USC Trojans: College Football Week 1 Betting Odds and Predictions

Fresno State Bulldogs vs. USC Trojans
Saturday, 8/30/14, 7:30 PM EST
Opening Point Spread:  USC -24
Current Betting Line:  USC -24
Opening Total:  N/A
Current Total:  N/A
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes

The USC Trojans will begin a new era under head coach Steve Sarkisian in hosting the Fresno State Bulldogs next month
The USC Trojans will begin a new era under head coach Steve Sarkisian in hosting the Fresno State Bulldogs next month

Fresno State has won the Mountain West Championship in both of its seasons in the league, as it looks to gain revenge from a 45-20 loss to the USC Trojans as six-point underdogs in the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl.  The Bulldogs have compiled a 20-6 SU record in two seasons under head coach Tim DeRuyter, which is important to consider when making your college football picks in Week 1.  Offensively, the team led the nation in averaging 394.8 yards per game through the air in 2013, but will begin life without star quarterback Derek Carr.  Fresno State is 6-1 ATS as road underdogs since 2011.

The Bulldogs welcome back 13 total starters, with their biggest strength likely to be found at linebacker, with all four major contributors returning.  Fresno State free safety Derron Smith is also a key player to watch in the season opener, as he led the Mountain West and tied for second nationally with seven interceptions last year.  His 14 career picks are the most of any FBS player returning in 2014.

USC had won 15 consecutive home openers until suffering a 10-7 loss to the Washington State Cougars as 15-point favorites last year—a result that led the program into a mid-season spiral until athletic director Pat Haden fired Lane Kiffin and named Ed Orgeron interim head coach.  Former Washington Huskies front man Steve Sarkisian is now in charge of the sidelines, while junior quarterback Cody Kessler is expected to start for a second season.  The squad is 21-2 SU at home when taking on non-conference opponents since 2002—both losses coming to Notre Dame.

The Trojans may dominate this affair due to possessing one of the top defensive fronts in the country, which can’t be ignored when looking over the college football betting lines, with lineman Leonard Williams being the key player to watch.  Some NFL experts have mentioned Williams as a potential No. 1 overall selection in next year’s draft.  On the other side of the football, wide receiver Nelson Agholor is ready to be the main downfield threat with the departure of Marqise Lee, while a stable of running backs is at Sarkisian’s disposal.

Sports bettors will likely back the Trojans due to the Bulldogs being 1-4 ATS in their last five non-conference affairs.

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