The Hawaii Warriors will host the No. 24 USC Trojans on opening night of the 2013 college football season. Kickoff is scheduled for Thursday at 11:00 EST and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. This will be the ninth overall meeting in the series and the third in the last four years. USC crushed the Warriors at home 49-10 to kickoff last season and were able to escape with 49-36 victory at Hawaii in 2010. Oddsmakers currently have the Trojans listed as 22.5-point road favorites with the total set at 53.5.
Why USC Will Cover:
The Trojans failed miserably living up to the huge expectations coming into last season and I believe that has a lot of people looking down on this program. 15 of those starters are back and you have to believe they are headed into 2013 with a chip on their shoulder. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a big fan of head coach Lane Kiffin, but you can’t deny the talent that USC brings to the table. The Trojans outgained the Warriors 475 to 264 in total yards last year. While they lose two key players offensively in starting quarterback Matt Barkley and wide out Robert Woods, they still have the top receiver in college football in Marqise Lee and what figures to be a very strong running game with the return of four starters on the offensive line and starting running back Silas Redd. I also expect big improvements out of sophomore quarterback Max Wittek, who didn’t play close to his potential in those two starts to close out last year.
Covering a 22-point spread on the road is a lot to ask, but keep in mind the Trojans are 8-0 in the series against Hawaii and have won by an average of 35.0 ppg. It’s also worth mentioning that the USC is an impressive 12-2 when playing their first game of the season away from the Coliseum. Hawaii on the other hand is just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 non-conference games and 2-8 ATS in their last 10 home games. You have to wonder if this line has been set too low due to USC struggles in 2012.
Why Hawaii Will Cover:
I think a lot of people are down on the Warriors coming into 2013 after they went just 3-9 in the first season under Norm Chow, but you have to remember that Chow completely changed the offense from the spread to a more pro-style attack. On top of that they had just nine starters coming back and started a whopping two seniors all season. Three wins given those circumstances isn’t that bad. With 16 starters coming back, eight on each side of the ball, I believe Hawaii is going to be one of the most improved teams in the country. It might not result in a huge jump in wins, but they should be a lot more competitive than they were a year ago.
I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Warriors kept this game close enough to cover 22.5-points. It’s not out of the question that USC won’t take this game serious after last year’s 39-point blowout and a conference game on deck at home against Washington State. For Hawaii this is arguably the biggest game of the season when you look at their schedule.
Hawaii has covered the spread in 4 of their last 5 games vs the Pac-12, while USC is a miserable 0-4 in their last 4 non-conference games and 0-7 ATS in their last 7 road matchups.
Early Lean – Hawaii +22.5
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