It has been quite the up-and-down season for the USC Trojans in 2013. The team was ranked in the Top 25 to begin the year and started the season with a 3-2 record leading to the firing head coach Lane Kiffin. Ed Orgeron took over, going 6-2 for the remainder of the season.
It has been a far more successful season for the Fresno State Bulldogs in 2013. Losing just one game on the year, however, was the difference between a BCS berth and the Las Vegas Bowl. Fresno State is 11-1 on the season and in the Top 25, just missing out on a BCS bowl.
The Trojans have been one of the most impressive teams in the nation this season in terms of overcoming adversity. Having interim coach Orgeron helped some of the players play inspired football — including quarterback Cody Kessler who has passed for 2,623 yards and 16 touchdowns. Marquise Lee didn’t have quite the season he had hoped to have at receiver, however, catching just 50 passes for 673 yards and two touchdowns. Nelson Agholor leads the team in receiving with 51 catches for 824 yards and four scores.
With one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and a possible top draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft, Fresno State is lucky to say that Derek Carr is their quarterback. The senior has passed for 4,866 yards and 48 touchdowns for the top-ranked passing offense in the nation. Carr has passed it to Devante Adams 122 times for 1,645 yards and 23 touchdowns on the year while also hitting Josh Harper 79 times for 1,011 yards and 13 touchdowns. This team is known as a primarily passing squad.
Defensively, Fresno State has struggled mightily this season. The Bulldogs rank 81st in the nation in points allowed per game as well as ranking 81st in yards allowed per game. The Trojans have fared much better on defense this season, ranking 21st in points allowed per game as well as 14th in yards allowed per game.
Fresno State will face off against USC in the 2013 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl in Las Vegas, Nev., at 3:30 p.m. EST on Friday, Dec. 21. The game will be broadcasted on ABC.
PREDICTION: Fresno State 34, USC 28
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.